J/Teams dominate in Annapolis to Newport Race
Picture-perfect conditions greeted the Friday fleet of starters for the 2019 Annapolis-to-Newport Race, which got under way at 11:00am on the Chesapeake Bay.
North-northeasterly winds ranging from 8 to 12 knots enabled the 23 boats in five classes to enjoy a downwind start and many miles of port tack beam reaching SSE out of the Chesapeake Bay to the first, and only, turning mark offshore of the Bay entrance.
A popular strategy was to come off the starting line on port jibe and make a beeline to the deep water of the shipping channel since the current was about to begin flowing out the bay from an unusually high tide.
Off the boats that went southeast in search of the expected current advantage, LADY GREY- a J/110 skippered by Herrington Harbour Sailing Association member Joe Laun- showed strong form and speed in leading the entire fleet down the Bay.
Annapolis resident Ken Comerford skippered the J/111 MONEYPENNY and had his two sons- Kyle and Willy- as part of the crew. Kyle Comerford recently completed an outstanding career as skipper of the SUNY-Maritime offshore sailing team while younger brother Willy competes at the College of Charleston.
"As you get older, I think you do anything you can to spend time with your kids," said Ken Comerford. "I do very much appreciate every opportunity I get to go sailing with my sons."
There is quite a rivalry between the Comerford brothers, and it will no doubt manifest itself at some point during the long trip between Annapolis and Newport. Kyle is serving as navigator while Willy has agreed to handle the foredeck out of necessity.
"They both have their own strengths and skills," Ken Comerford said. "Willy has really impressed me with his ability on the bow. Kyle will be doing the navi-guessing the whole way, making sure we're pushing the boat as fast as we can and living up to our polars."
Comerford, a veteran ocean racer with many miles under his belt, expected a fairly straightforward passage. "I don't think it's going to be a big tactical race. I think it's going to be a drag race with a lot of reaching," he said. "Every time we run our models the wind seems to go farther and farther aft, which would be good for this boat."
In short, it was a simple race. After starting in the Northeast breeze which sent the fleet flying down the Bay on port tack, a Low pressure system moved by to the south and offshore, so the wind swung quite rapidly from 50 degrees to 120 degrees. As Comerford mentioned, they just tacked at the first turning mark and fetched Newport on starboard the whole way. The only mistake the J/111 MONEYPENNY made was to go "over" to windward (leaving Block Island to port) on their way in to Newport from offshore. Most of the fleet went to leeward (leaving B.I. to starboard and benefitted from an enormous current boost over the northern bar near the 1-BI Green bell buoy.
In ORC 1B Division, the J/44 GLORY sailed by the US Coast Guard Academy took 2nd, while the Comerford family took third on their J/111 MONEYPENNY.
In ORC 2 Division, the J/110 LADY GREY maintained her good pace and in the end, her skipper Joe Laun was quite happy to take the bronze.
In PHRF Racing 1 Class, the J/120s gave everyone and themselves a serious run-for-the-money. Winning was Rick Hanson's NO SURRENDER from North East River Yacht Club. Jim Praley's SHINNECOCK, a past winner in class and overall, took third, while Richard Born's WINDBORN was fourth and James Chen's CHAOTIC FLUX was fifth.
In PHRF Racing 2 Class, it was Albert Bossar's J/42 ALLEGIANT that won from the Herrington Harbour Sailing Association, while Lynn McClaskey's J/110 CIMARRON placed fifth, just 11 seconds from 4th place!
Finally, in the PHRF Doublehanded Class, Mike Greene's J/35 LOBLOLLY placed third.
More information at annapolisnewportrace.com