Impressive Start to Annapolis-to-Newport Race

Published on June 3rd, 2017

Annapolis, MD (June 3, 2017) – A large spectator fleet turned out on the Chesapeake Bay for the second start of the 2017 Annapolis-to-Newport Race. Vessels of all types, shapes and sizes congregated at both ends of the starting line and they were treated to an impressive display of size and power when the Volvo 70 Warrior raised its massive asymmetrical spinnaker and launched off the line on starboard tack.

Skipper Stephen Murray was at the helm of the high-tech racing machine and patiently picked his way through the fleet, most of which started on port. As soon as Warrior was clear of the other boats, Murray pointed the bow down a bit to achieve maximum speed on a reach toward the western shore.

By the time Warrior gybed and came back toward the Eastern Shore, it was well clear of the entire fleet and Murray no longer needed to worry about right of way issues. The Volvo 70 executed its first gybe just shy of Thomas Point Lighthouse and reached all the way to the mouth of Eastern Bay before having to gybe again.

Warrior has designs on breaking the course record of 42 hours, 58 minutes and 12 seconds, set by the Farr 60 Carrera (Joseph Dockery) in the 2001 Annapolis-to-Newport Race. When campaigned by Camper in the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race, this particular boat covered 566 nautical miles in the span of 24 hours. “This boat could easily break the record if we get the right conditions,” Murray told The Capital newspaper. “The forecast does have the wind building and providing reaching conditions out in the ocean. If we can get out of the bay in decent time and hook into some good pressure we might have a chance.”

Sail GP

Warrior was among 16 boats in two classes of larger, faster boats that started on Saturday morning. Principal race officer Bruce Bingman got the IRC 1 and PHRF 1 entries underway in brisk northeasterly winds of 9-11 knots with gusts to 14. “It was a smooth start with no issues, other than a few spectator boats got yelled at,” said Bingman, who was stationed aboard the main committee boat.

There was a fairly even split of boats starting on starboard and port tack. Jeroboam, a Farr 400 owned by Laurent Givry, got the best start on the committee boat end. Veteran professional Dee Smith was at the helm of Jeroboam and was among the sailors that admonished the spectator fleet for encroaching onto the course. “A portion of the spectator fleet had crowded in too close to the line. I thought everyone was very well behaved, but they don’t realize what hot angles these asymmetrical boats sail,” Bingman said.

Jeroboam is coming off an overall victory in the Down the Bay Race for the Virginia Cruising Cup, held the previous weekend. The Farr 400 completed the 120-nautical passage with an elapsed time of just over 11 hours in heavy air reaching conditions.

Kodiak, a Reichel-Pugh 66-footer skippered by Llwyd Ecclestone, led the port tack starters off the line near the pin end. Kodiak is making its first appearance in the Annapolis-to-Newport Race since finishing second overall in the 2001 edition. It was known as Blue Yankee and owned by Bob Towse that year and crossed the line 20 minutes after Carrera broke the course record that had stood since 1999.

All of Saturday’s starters would love to complete the Chesapeake Bay portion of the Annapolis-to-Newport Race in similar time, but that does not appear likely as forecasts call for winds to lighten considerably on Saturday night.

Saturday’s starters were still sailing in solid northeasterly winds of 12 knots with gusts to 15 as of 4 p.m. Warrior had reached the mouth of the Potomac River by that time and was sailing at 11.5 knots of speed. The Volvo 70 had opened an eight-nautical mile lead over Black Pearl, a Carkeek 47 owned by Stefan Jentzsch of London.

The course for the 36th biennial Annapolis-to-Newport Race is not identical to previous editions as it will not finish at Castle Hill Lighthouse. This year’s race will finish one mile farther up Narragansett Bay off Fort Adams. That means the 2017 fleet will sail 474 nautical miles instead of the traditional 473.

By late Saturday afternoon, the IRC 1 and PHRF 1 entries had begun to spread out with the TP52 settling into third position, two nautical miles astern of Black Pearl. Kodiak and Jeroboam were sailing in close proximity to Hooligan, which is being raced by members of the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team.

Report by Event Media

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