The Comeback of Distance Racing

The Comeback of Distance Racing
by Lin McCarthy, SpinSheet
On the Southern Chesapeake Bay racing circuit, mid-distance and longer races have become a not-so-unusual occurrence. The obvious reason is because racers like this race course format. Beyond that, there are two main reasons that the number and quality of distance races has increased recently.

First, distance racing is a change. The main staple of racing on the Southern Bay is still windward-leeward legs around drop marks. The emphasis is on crew work and speed. He who rounds the marks with the most perfect spinnaker sets and sail choices has a good chance to make it to the post-race podium. Crew work and timing pay big dividends.

More importantly, middle-distance and longer races around designated marks no matter the wind direction test entirely different skills. Yes, it is still necessary to recognize a chance to power reach and react accordingly, but there is a huge emphasis on navigation and strategy. In a distance race you have to know where you are in relation to currents, surface conditions, your competition, and what lies ahead. Read more

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

If you wind back the time clock, back to when regattas were big, the keelboat scene had boats designed for racing in the IOR fleets and a variety of production cruiser/racer boats in the PHRF fleets. It was a logical divide… until the IOR group pushed too hard and the rule imploded.

The gradual push to improve overall boat performance impacted the furniture fleet, of which many were not willing to pay the escalating cost for better equipment. The new boat designs got all the attention, which did little to encourage the older production boats from participating. When all these boats were grouped together, attrition began.

So when we talk about why the sport has shrunk, we need to look back to how we evolved. But unlike many species that become extinct, the boats that used to race have not disappeared. While rust may never sleep, fiberglass boats live on.

So if there is interest in building back the sport, rapper Ice-T got it right when he sang, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Sure, people screwed up the sport by raising the cost to compete, but no handicap or rating rule works when dissimilar boats are grouped. None! Not the old ones, not the new ones. But since we are so eager to support people who are spending money into the sport, this came at the expense of the core audience. So if the sport does want to grow, we need to fix the game.

Annapolis Yacht Club is making an attempt to fix the game. Here is their announcement:

In an effort to extend the appeal of its racing events to a broader spectrum of sailors, the Annapolis Yacht Club’s 80th Annual Regatta, scheduled for June 11, 2016, will feature Cruising Spinnaker, Cruising Non-Spinnaker, Shorthanded Spinnaker, and Shorthanded Non-Spinnaker starts. Boats participating in these starts will sail a government mark course with a fixed course published in advance. The planned course will range between 10 and 20 nautical miles.

These starts are designed to be attractive to club sailors who are not frequent racers. All AYC Annual Regatta starts will happen at the same place and the post-race competitor’s party and trophy presentation will take place at the Annapolis Yacht Club, Jr. Sailing Annex.

However, a pre-requisite for participation is a PHRF rating for each boat. The process of obtaining a PHRF rating will be greatly simplified and accelerated via a Workshop set for Saturday, April 2, at the Dock Street Clubhouse. The Workshop will be led by a group of sailors who will work with each boat owner to complete their PHRF rating application at the event.

For additional information, contact AYC Regatta Manager, Linda Ambrose: (410) 858-4964 or

Lessons of a Bermuda Race skipper

Lessons of a Bermuda Race skipper

Published on September 22, 2015

The Newport Bermuda Race entry process may seem daunting. But as this report by a former first-timer shows, it’s not all that difficult when done with care. Philip Dickey, the author, skippered his Swan 46 Flying Lady in the 2012 race (they raced again in 2014)…

PDI learned valuable lessons. Most important, I learned that the safety and health of the crew are a skipper’s most important concerns. You are unlikely to win your class in your first race, but you are certain to face awesome responsibility for your crew and their loved ones as you race your boat over 600 miles offshore on the way to Bermuda.

Not only is the Newport Bermuda Race the oldest and arguably the most prestigious of the popular offshore races open to amateurs, it is especially challenging because it takes you far offshore and out of range of rescue helicopters and Coast Guard vessels. This race is the Everest of offshore racing. Most of the Bermuda Race is beyond coastal helicopter range, so if you need outside assistance beyond advice by satellite phone, you likely will need to call a commercial vessel to rescue you, your crew, and your boat.

The best way to avoid having to be rescued is to engage in meticulous preparation. To prepare for this race you must do three things: Prepare the boat for safety, prepare the crew for safety, and prepare the skipper for the responsibility for the health, in addition to the safety, of the crew. Read more

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