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Weekend regattas return to Annapolis with EYC One-Design Classic, Snipe Colonial Cup

Former collegiate sailors Carter Cameron (College of Charleston) and Elena VandenBerg (Stanford) teamed to place fourth in the Snipe Colonial Cup. (Photo courtesy of Jill Bennett).
Former collegiate sailors Carter Cameron (College of Charleston) and Elena VandenBerg (Stanford) teamed to place fourth in the Snipe Colonial Cup. (Photo courtesy of Jill Bennett). (Courtesy Photo)

Coronavirus caused a change in format for the Eastport Yacht Club One-Design Classic.

EYC race committee chair Sharon Hadsell elected to eliminate the traditional windward-leeward racing to reduce the number of race committee personnel. Without a need for drop-mark boats and not using the typical starting sequence enabled EYC to run the regatta with just three race officers — all on the signal boat.

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Principal race officer Tom Stalder chose to run government mark courses of approximately 7 ½ nautical miles for the five participating one-design classes. Stalder used a sound signal starting sequence (Appendix U in the Racing Rules of Sailing).

Three races were started and finished at G9 on the Severn River. Stalder sent the fleet out to R2 then around a turning mark at G12 with the final leg coming back into the Severn River.

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“We did the best we could to get sailors out racing without endangering the committee,” Hadsell said. “Frankly, it was not perfect, but it was a good day that got everyone out on the water.”

EYC conducted the obligatory skipper’s meeting virtually using Zoom and there was no post-regatta awards ceremony.

Last weekend marked the return of multi-race regattas to Annapolis. In addition to the One-Design Classic, the 45th annual Snipe Colonial Cup was held out of Severn Sailing Association. Sailboat racing returned to town last month when Annapolis Yacht Club and J/World Annapolis started their respective weeknight series.

Distance courses that involved considerable reaching were quite different for the small one-design classes such as J/22 and J/70. Each race lasted just over an hour in 10-15 knot winds that were best described as a westerly type of southerly.

Jen and Ray Wulff set the pace in J/70 class by winning all three starts. Joe Gibson and Mike Komar were aboard as trimmers with Jenn working the bow for her husband, who steered Joint Custody to the sweep.

“Starts were critical. Because they were really long courses, the fleet spread out in different directions,” Wulff said.

Henry Filter and his Wild Child team chased Joint Custody around the course and was runner-up in all three races. Will Wagner, Alex Stout and Tom Murray crewed for Filter, a Stevensville resident and Eastport Yacht Club member.

Wulff passed Filter in Race 1 then got great starts and led from start to finish in Race 2 and 3.

“We were all brushing away the cobwebs to find the rust. Everyone was rusty, without exception,” Wulff admitted.

The Wulffs had been planning to take Joint Custody to the J/70 North Americans in Mississauga, Canada then the J/70 World Championships in Long Beach, California. That plan was scuttled by the pandemic and for now the only other event on the schedule is the Annapolis Yacht Club One-Design Regatta.

Gregg Zurmuhlen skippered Sport to third place in the 21-boat fleet, marking his first podium finish since joining the J/70 class last January. Sean Harr called tactics, while his son Liam trimmed the headsails and Set Still pulled the strings on the main aboard Sport.

“It’s a shame we didn’t have an awards ceremony so we could applaud and raise a glass to Gregg. He’s worked very hard to get up to speed and sailed very well on Saturday,” Wulff said.

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J.R. Maxwell and his crew on Scooby posted straight bullets in topping the J/22 class. Jim Schmicker worked the middle and Nat Spencer handled the bow for Maxwell, who was racing for the first time since the Frostbite Series around Thanksgiving.

“It was the first time on the water this season and felt good to be out there,” Maxwell said. “We’ve sailed together a lot over the last three or four years, so that familiarity with each other and the boat made a difference.”

Maxwell said the reaching legs were so tight the seven-boat J/22 fleet could not hoist spinnakers. In a rarity, EYC set up for downwind starts and Maxwell easily won two of three by pulling an unusual maneuver.

“It was basically a broad reach on port tack and we figured out you could just hang at the committee boat on starboard tack and wait,” he said. “As soon we heard the start signal, we gybed to port and crossed the line. It was a typical team race trap move.”

Saturday’s action was held amidst considerable power boat chop and Maxwell felt wave-riding on the long reaching legs was critical. “We got the boat speed up to 10.1 knots surfing down waves,” he said.

Protocols for the Snipe Colonial Cup were strict with considerable advance communication via email helping things run smoothly. Severn Sailing Association officials devoted much time to establishing guidelines for a return to racing: Sailors are required to wear masks at all times while on the grounds, the clubhouse bathrooms are closed and hand sanitizer stations are located at all the hoists.

Lisa Pline, Annapolis Snipe Fleet 532 captain, said housing was not offered to out-of-town sailors as usual. A socially distanced awards ceremony was held at SSA on Sunday and broadcast on Facebook Live.

It was somewhat ironic to have the husband-wife team of Chris Adriance and Kristin Mullins as co-chairs of the regatta. Mullins is an epidemiologist with the University of Maryland Medical Center who has been conducting coronavirus testing.

Organizers capped attendance at 20 boats and had a long waiting list. In years past, the Colonial Cup has attracted 30 boats or more. This year’s event wound up with 21 with the extra entry added because the owners were sailing out of Eastport Yacht Club that is located next door to Severn Sailing Association on First Street.

“Hard part for our fleet was not having any social gatherings,” Pline said. “This is such a socially oriented class. To not offer any sort of social activities at all was tough.”

When all was said and done, the podium was populated entirely by the Miami mafia with decorated skipper Ernesto Rodriguez and crew Kathleen Tocke putting forth a virtuoso performance. They opened the regatta with three bullets then tacked on a couple seconds for a low score of seven points, less than half that of runner-up Enrique Quintero.

Augie Diaz, who has been the longtime standard-bearer for the Snipe class, took third.

“That Miami group gets out sailing a lot. They challenge each other and raise the overall competitive level,” Pline said.

The top local entry was the team of skipper Carter Cameron and Elena VandenBerg, a pair of recent college graduates. Cameron, who sailed at College of Charleston, is living in Annapolis after taking a job with the Quantum Sail Design Group loft on Bay Ridge. VandenBerg, an Archbishop Spalding product, was an All-American crew at Stanford. They posted a pair of seconds en route to finishing fourth overall.

Almost half of the 21-boat fleet consisted of teams featuring sailors 30 years or younger. Among those was 22-year-old skipper Christian Filter, an SSA member who combined with Kimmie Leonard to place sixth. Top female team was skipper Carol Cronin and crew Kim Couranz, SSA members who took seventh overall.

EYC One-Design Classic

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J/22 (7 boats)

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1, Scooby, J.R. Maxwell, 1-1-1=3; 2, Hot Toddy, Jeff Todd, 2-2-3=7; 3, Just Wing It, Drew Mutch, 4-6=10

J/70 (11 boats)

1, Joint Custody, Jenn & Ray Wulff, 1-1-1=3; 2, Wild Child, Henry Filter, 2-2-2=6; 3, 4 Sport, Gregg Zurmuhlen, 3-8-3=14

J/80 (4 boats)

1, Meltemi, Mike Hobson, 2-1-2=5; 2, Stacked Deck, Ramzi Bannura, 3-2-1=6; 3, Cool J, Alexander Kraus, 1-3-3=7

J/105 (5 boats)

1, Breakaway, Richard Hinds, 1-1-4=6; 2, Chessie, John Kircher, 4-2-1=7; 3, Peregrine, Bill & Linsley Carruth, 2-3-2=7

Alerion 28 (3 boats)

1, Caroline, Kevin McNeil, 1-1-1=3; 2, Halcyon, Jason Goscha, 2-2-2=6; 3, Skimmer, Jack & Marti Detweiler, 3-3-3=9

Snipe Colonial Cup (21 boats)

1, Ernesto Rodriguez/Kathleen Tocke, Miami, Florida, 1-1-1-2-(10)-2=7; 2, Enrique Quintero/Charlie Bess, Coral Reef Yacht Club, 3-2-3-(4)-3-4=15; 3, Augie Diaz/Claudia Loiacano, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, 5-3-(6)-1-1-6=16; 4, Carter Cameron/Elena VandenBerg, Severn Sailing Association, 2-5-2-10-(13)-8=27; 5, Arthur Blodgett/Nikki Bruno, Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club, 4-9-(13)-8-8-1=30; 6, Christian Filter/Kimmie Leonard, SSA, 8-(13)-4-3-12-3=30; 7, Carol Cronin/Kim Couranz, SSA, 6-(14)-5-9-9-5=34

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