Team Fireball – Powered By J World Annapolis – Wins Annapolis To Newport PHRF 1 Division
By BILL WAGNER firstname.lastname@example.org
That Fireball was listed as a first-time entry in the Annapolis-to-Newport Race was a bit of a misnomer.
Many members of the crew had competed in the biennial event before with skipper Kristen Berry and tactician Mike Coe having four Annapolis-to-Newport Races under their belt. Berry, Coe and almost everyone else on Team Fireball is involved with the sailing industry around Annapolis.
That collective experience explains why the rookie entry performed so well in the 2013 Annapolis-to-Newport Race, which began last Friday and officially finished on Tuesday when the Hunter 340 Brigadoon was last boat to cross the line off Castle Hill Lighthouse.
“We had a very strong team, a lot of outstanding sailors with plenty of offshore experience,” said Berry, co-director of J/World Annapolis.
Team Fireball had a lot to celebrate upon arrival in Newport as the J/111 took first place on corrected time in the highly-competitive PHRF 1 class. Coe and navigator Eddie Frederick chose to take Fireballapproximately 20 miles east of the rhumb line and that strategy worked out.
“We made a somewhat risky decision to go offshore, but doing so set us up well. We were able to sail under Code Zero pointed toward Newport for about 35 hours,” Berry said.
Berry was referring to the huge asymmetrical spinnaker that provides the most speed in downwind or reaching conditions. Except during periods of extreme light air,Fireball carried that sail shortly after rounding Chesapeake Light until about 15 miles before Block Island. Unfortunately, the remainder of the race was not as comfortable.
“Just as we thought we were home free the wind turned around and we were close-hulled for the last six hours into Newport, beating in the rain and dark,” Berry said.
Despite enduring the upwind slog for the final jaunt from Block Island to Castle Hill Light, Fireball managed to beat the other five finishers in PHRF 1 with a corrected time of three days, two hours and 25 minutes. Saykadoo, a J/120 skippered by Steve McManus of Severna Park, was a very close second — almost 24 minutes behind when time allowances were factored.
“This is a huge accomplishment and we are all very happy. I don’t think it’s quite set in just yet,” said Berry, speaking by cell phone a few hours after Fireball finished. “This was a group of good friends doing a classic race. We had a great boat that is perfect for a sprint distance race like this. Everything just came together real well.”
Coe, the tactician, is a professional with the North Sails-Chesapeake loft. One of the trimmers was Jeff Jordan, is the other co-director of J/World Annapolis. Rounding out the crew were Grady Byus (North Point Yacht Sales), Greg Lines (J/World) and Andrew Boren (J/World).
“This race gave us a little bit of everything. We went through every sail in the inventory,” Berry said. “We blasted out of the Chesapeake Bay and were doing 18 knots at one point with the A2 spinnaker. We were totally becalmed in the Atlantic Ocean for about seven hours. All in all, it was a very interesting and wild passage.”
Irie, a TP52 skippered by Greg Alden of Arnold, was first to finish among PHRF entries — crossing the line at 1:23 p.m. on Monday. Quantum Sail Design professional Scott Nixon called tactics while Dr. Robert Ranzenbach handled navigation aboard Irie. Veteran Annapolis sailors Ian Gordon and Matt Beck served as watch captains.
“This is an awesome boat for offshore racing and we sailed about as well as we could based on the conditions we were dealt,” Nixon said.
Irie was locked in a terrific battle with the other TP52 in the race — the Naval Academy entry Corsair. Those two boats engaged in a jibing duel upon approach to Block Island on Sunday night. Irie went east around Block Island while Corsair chose the inside route. That proved a costly decision as the Navy entry, skippered by Midshipman Andy Beeler, wound up finishing almost two hours behind its TP52 rival.
2013 Annapolis-to-Newport Race Results
(Boat, design, owner, homeport, corrected time)
IRC I (6 boats): 1, Rambler, Custom 90, George David, New York, 3 days, 7 hours, 30 minutes, 33 seconds; 2, Decision, Carkeek 40, Stephen Murray, New Orleans, 3D:15H:29M:38S; 3, Privateer, Cookson 50, Ron O’Hanley, Newport, RI, 3D:20H:41M:36S
IRC II (10 boats): 1, Vamp, J44, Leonard Sitar, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 3 days, 15 hours, 20 minutes, 29 seconds; 2, Dolphin, J/122, Mdn. Neil McMillan, Naval Academy, Annapolis, 3D:16H:03M:09S; 3, Orion, J/122, Paul Milo, Annapolis, 3D:16H:33M:53S
IRC III (10 boats): 1, Jacqueline V, Hinckley SW 42, Bob Forman, West Islip, NY, 3 days, 14 hours, 49 minutes, 3 seconds; 2, Cygnette, Swan 441, William Mayer, Jamestown, RI, 3D:15H:20M:33S
3, Bandana, Swan 47, Charles Benson, Oxford, MD, 3D:15H:57M:16S
PHRF I (12 boats): 1, Fireball, J/111, Kristen Berry, Annapolis, 3 days, 2 hours, 25 minutes; 2, Saykadoo, J/120, Steve McManus, Severna Park, 3D:2H:48M:52S; 3, Velocity, J/111, Martin Roesch, Annapolis, 3D:3H:41M:20S
PHRF II (10 boats): 1, Flirt, Navy 44, Mdn. Jonathan Driesslein, Naval Academy, Annapolis, 3 days, 2 hours, 46 minutes, 20 seconds; 2, Huck’s Finn, Dehler 36, Jeff Leigh, Annapolis, 3D:3H:18M:19S; 3, Wharf Rat, CS 40, Larry Vazzano, Pasadena, MD, 3D:3H:48M
PHRF III (9 boats): 1, Actaea, Bermuda 40, Michael Cone, Georgetown, MD, 2 days, 19 hours, 33 minutes, 54 seconds; 2, Belle Aurore, Cal 40, Doug Jurrius, Oxford, MD, 3D:00H:51M:53S; 3, Razor’s Edge, Sabre 362, Frank Kendall, Annapolis, 3D:2H:25M:49S