September 27, 2010

Cal 25 Nationals

This year the Cal 25 Nationals were held over the Labor Day weekend in Annapolis, MD and in conjunction with Annapolis Race Week. I am told this is the largest regatta in the world and after surveying all the competitors on three racing circles I am in no position to dispute that claim. The format consisted of three races on Saturday, three on Sunday and two on Monday. Hurricane Earl was blowing through the area and though it didn't bring rain to the Chesapeake Bay it certainly brought an abundance of wind.

On Saturday the wind was blowing at twenty-two to twenty-five knots with gusts as high as thirty-three on the bottom of the course, approximately fifteen knots in the middle and (get this) only about seven at the windward mark. Go figure. Cal 25s are old boats and all of us were wondering whether they would hold up in such a brisk breeze. They held up just fine. Although I'm sure most of us wouldn't have complained had the races been postponed, absolutely nobody dropped out. Cal 25 racers are made of sturdy stock. The high winds were kind to us and at the end of the day we found ourselves solidly positioned in second place. This was beginning to look easy.

Sunday's wind dropped off significantly to about five knots. I'm told this is normal for this time of year. The lighter winds were shifty (a gross understatement) and the sea was lumpy. Because of the light winds the famed Chesapeake Bay current was now in play. Though we were newcomers on the block it was somewhat satisfying to hear the locals also complain about having to deal with the current. Driving in such conditions was a new experience for me and as a result our scores suffered significantly. All of sudden not so easy.

Monday's wind was more to our liking. The velocity was good all day and climbed to about seventeen knots for the day's final race. This was right in our "go fast" range and we made the most out of it by getting our second bullet of the weekend and thus were able to finish the regatta on a high note.

When the dust cleared the champion was once again "Draco" (their fifth championship) from Bay View Yacht Club, Detroit,MI. They won because they sailed more consistently than everyone else. An Annapolis boat named "Upchuck" finished a very close second, a mere one point behind. We took third place. Not what we wanted but pretty satisfying nonetheless. Especially when considering that we were racing a "loaner" boat in unfamiliar waters against stiff competition.
In the final analysis it was three days of great racing with numerous conditions thrown our way and against sixteen very tough competitors. What a sport!

Report from Art Melendres