The sun was shining Saturday at the Sunshine Open as 35 lasers took to the waters of Annapolis for the 36th running of this event. That group included 3 sailors from Canada and a couple from New York and New Jersey.
After waiting on the water for about an hour for the wind to fill, we were treated to a 8-10 knot breeze. The large starting line gave everyone a lane and the fleet got off cleanly on the first try. For the first leg the wind went left and that meant all of the pin-end starters who stayed to that side made out much better as the fleet reached the windward mark. The next two marks were changed to square up the course to the new wind. From here the wind held in place although it let out a bit towards the end of the race.
Only one race was sailed and Jon Deutsch (FBYC) finished first followed by Rodger Link (WRSC) and Chad Coberly. Kyle Swenson (FBYC) was the first Junior with a 5th place. Kin Couranz (SSA) was first Radial and Karen Long (SSA) was first Woman.
Following that race the fleet stuck around for almost another hour waiting for some more wind to get another race off, but it never came. We were lucky to get in one race because other courses out on the water such as the J22 and Etchells didn’t get any races off.
Back on shore the fleet was treated to a Mahi Mahi diner and everyone sat around with their favorite drink talking about how their race went.
Sunday started with 8-12 knots of wind, partly cloudy skies and lumpy waves. The Race Committee took us way out into the bay to away from potential powerboat traffic and to get clear air. As everyone was getting to the course we were watching a small rain cell moving from the south to the east of us. It appeared to be going right past us.
In the course of just 5 minutes, that tiny cell off in the distance became a wall of showers headed straight for us. As soon as everyone realized it we started heading in. Minutes later it was raining and gusting into the middle and upper 20’s. Thankfully it was a broad reach back to Annapolis.
Several Vanguard 15’s were coming out to race with us and hadn’t quite made it out to us yet. Just two minutes after we turned to head in, all of the lasers watched as one of the V15s in front of us lost its rig. Soon the rain hit and it was coming down sideways in sheets.
That ride back was the wettest, fastest, scariest and most fun ride I have ever had on a laser. Reaching in, we were flying across the harbor. Several times I could feel the boat lift off the top of one wave and come down on the next. In the peak of the rain about halfway to the dock, the visibility was reduced to 1/4 mile or less and that was one of the few times I’ve been on a laser and had to resort to navigating by compass and buoys. We were in the middle of the harbor yet couldn’t see downtown, the naval academy, or the towers behind us.
Reaching along in high winds it was imperative to keep the boom out of the water and keep the boat flat. I did great at that until I got in front of East Port Yacht Club just a few hundred yards from our own dock. At that point I just lost it and spectacularly crash jibed and came to a screeching halt. If that wasn’t bad enough, there were about 25 high school sailors sitting on the dock in the rain watching us come in and they gave me 10’s for my dismount and a standing ovation. Never before have I actually caught air as I was launched off the boat and into the water.
Once boats starting hitting the docks everyone pitched in to get everyone’s boat landed and on dollies. We all made sure to get everyone out of the water as soon as possible and we grabbed the results from last night and checked off every sailor as they came in to be sure no one was left out there. Once everyone was on shore we swapped stories of our trip in. All in all everyone made it in safely, relatively unscathed, and with a new appreciation for hard ground.
We only ended up with one race, but everyone still had a great time and probably a few good stories they’ll be telling for the rest of the season. I want to thank Dorian Haldeman, the Race Committee and all of the folks at SSA for putting on another great regatta and I look forward to coming back in the fall for the Crab Claw.