Saturday, June 25, 2016

J/42 Wins Annapolis Bermuda Race

J/42 Schematic wins Annapolis Bermuda race(Hamilton, Bermuda)- The “longest” Bermuda Race- 753nm- that takes place on a biennial basis seems to be the Annapolis to Bermuda Race, and is hosted by the Eastport YC and the Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club in Bermuda.  You start in Annapolis, sail down the length of the Chesapeake, then sail straight across the Gulf Stream to Bermuda in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; that’s farther than either the Newport Bermuda or Charleston Bermuda Races that are just a straight shot across the ocean to St David’s Lighthouse on the northern shore of Bermuda.  The A2B was an epic race for most of the fleet with a broad range of conditions- mini-gales to flat calms and thunder squalls in the Gulf Stream to mix things up a bit.  After the fleet exited the Chesapeake Bay around Sunday afternoon and evening, the weather conditions changed dramatically!

The Monday 4pm update from Brian Barone: “the fleet check in this morning seems to show that everyone got walloped for about 3 hours last night with gale force winds from 30 to 40 knots. Those conditions while bashing to windward would have made for a supremely uncomfortable night. Those conditions are a real test of the drivers because if they fail to take the right path though the waves, pretty much everyone knows about it right away with a heck of a bang. Imagine your bed being dropped onto concrete from 5 feet up. Tough on the boats and tough on the people.”

The Tuesday 8am update from Sr Barone continued to offer good perspective: “The forecast in Grid E is showing that the fleet has experienced diminishing wind today after a hammering last night. Winds should drop and range from 13 to 18 knots. That is a huge range of course, but those grids are big after all. They jump back to about 22 knots sustained building into tomorrow midday. However, remember, the gusts can be much higher as evidenced last evening when 40 knots was reported in places.

Fleet positions show the pack is spreading out and they must be seeing much lighter air or some strong counter currents because boatspeeds have dropped off dramatically. 8s and 9s are now 5s, 6s and 7s.

Most of the fleet is a little better than halfway, with leaders more than 3/4 of the way to the palm trees and Painkillers. No major changes in fleet standing.

So good night to these little boats on a big big ocean at the end of the fourth evening. For the family and friends we leave you with some famous words to ponder. The reasons we sail are varied and wide and in the end are all the same. John Masefield said it best, and every now and again, it bears repeating...

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
the wheel’s kick, the wind’s song, and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down go to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.”

Ultimately, finding some fair winds and collecting more pickle dishes for the trophy cabinets were familiar boats from the Chesapeake fleet of J/teams.

The PHRF Spinnaker 1 division saw James Whited’s J/111 BAD CAT finish 5th in class.  Then, in PHRF Spinnaker 2 Class, the J/42 SCHEMATIC skippered by Robert Fox won her class followed by Lynn McClaskey’s J/110 CIMARRON in second.  Congratulations to these teams for persevering in the difficult conditions to collect some well-earned hardware!   For more Annapolis Bermuda Race sailing information