From Tulsa to Annapolis Bermuda Race

Published on June 7th, 2018

At 753nm, the Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race is the longest ocean race on the east coast of the U.S, delivering a unique combination of inshore and offshore racing through its route down the Chesapeake Bay, across the Gulfstream, and onto Bermuda.

And when the 2018 edition starts on June 8, among the 27 entrants will be Oklahoma native Lynn McClaskey who fell in love with sailing while growing up in Tulsa.

“We have a lot of lakes in Oklahoma and they’re all dammed for power supply and agriculture,” McClaskey said. “Considering the way the wind comes whipping down from the plains, sailing really is a natural pursuit.”

McClaskey was a longtime member of the Windycrest Sailing Club and initially raced a Thistle with her family. She got into junior sailing and became quite proficient at racing a Sunfish, Laser and 470 on Keystone Lake.

Lynn McClaskey

McClaskey moved east for work purposes as she’s an analyst with the United States Department of Defense. She has lived in Crofton (MD) for 20 years and got involved with big boat racing out of Annapolis, crewing for various skippers in the J/30 class.

In 2012, McClaskey competed in the Annapolis to Bermuda Race aboard a C&C 38 named Dare Greatly, which was owned by Joe Donahue. Her first thought upon completing the challenge?

“Hey, I could do that!” McClaskey said to herself.

So McClaskey bought a J/110 the following year and began the long process of preparing herself and the boat for ocean racing. She previously owned a C&C 27 that was equipped with “lifeline netting and car seats” as she cruised with two young children.

“I’ve been working on the boat ever since I got it in 2013,” McClaskey said, who served as a safety inspector for the 2014 Annapolis to Bermuda Race in order to gain an even better understanding of what is required of a skipper. “I didn’t want to go offshore until I was absolutely certain it was completely ship-shape.”

She entered the biennial race two years later with Cimarron, which is named after one of the rivers that flows into Keystone Lake, placing second in PHRF Spinnaker 2. The J/110 was the first boat in its class to exit the Chesapeake Bay, but could not maintain that pace during the ocean crossing and wound up being overtaken by the J/42 Schematic (Robert Fox; Arlington, Virginia).

“It wasn’t quite the result I wanted,” McClaskey said. “That was my first big offshore passage and there were many, many lessons learned. I think the most important lesson is that a lot of the race is won or lost before you leave the dock in terms of preparing the boat and developing a plan.”

McClaskey subscribes to the theory that one has not truly lost until they quit trying. So she is doing Annapolis to Bermuda again this year with the intent of capturing class honors and finishing further up within the overall fleet.

This time around, Cimarron has been slotted into PHRF II, which has attracted 10 entries that are all different designs. Among the competition is a J/42, Frers 41, Outbound 44, C&C 37 and Sabre 38.

“We have been working ever since the last Annapolis to Bermuda to prepare for this year’s race,” said McClaskey, one of only two female skippers entered. “It’s a big organizational challenge to get all the training, equipment and skills you need. A key element is building a crew that you trust and that is something that has happened over time by doing more and more sailing.”

McClaskey appreciates that everyone has pitched in to help prepare the J/110. “Any offshore boat is going to have a long list. Those big jobs are getting smaller and smaller as we speak. We have a great mixture of skills and have trained for every situation – man overboard, firefighting, losing rudder, losing rig. We’ve rehearsed it all.”

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Source: Bill Wagner, The Baltimore Sun

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