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Navy tops Annapolis to Bermuda Race

Published on June 18th, 2018

Members of the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team spent most of the spring semester training for a variety of offshore distance races being held this summer.

Three crews competed in the 2018 Annapolis to Bermuda Race and the results clearly show they were well prepared.

Tenacious (above) led the way as the trio of Navy 44-footers swept the top three placements in PHRF I, which had eight entries.

“You can’t beat going one-two-three,” said Midshipman Cassidy O’Brien, skipper of class runner-up Gallant. “We’re really pleased with how we did as a team.”

Recent graduate Chris Cantillo served as skipper aboard Tenacious, which wound up as overall winner of the 21st Annapolis to Bermuda Race after handicaps were factored in. Rising junior Connor Caniglia played a pivotal role as primary navigator as Tenacious posted a corrected time of 5 days, 16 hours, 21 minutes and 34 seconds.

That was 1 hour and 33 minutes better than PHRF II winner Orion, a Hanse 371 skippered by Galesville resident Jon Opert. Philip “Drew” Fleming Jr. was navigator on Orion, which had a corrected time of 5:17:54:26.

Tenacious, Gallant and third place finisher Integrity are all part of the Naval Academy’s relatively new fleet of Mark II 44-foot training vessels. Those boats, which were delivered in 2009, were designed by David Pedrick and built by Tillotson-Pearson.

Tenacious was the second boat to finish the 753-nautical mile race – crossing the line off Hamilton 1 hour and 39 minutes behind SLY, an XP 44 owned by Robert Fox. Gallant finished fourth on elapsed time, 1 hour and 20 seconds after the Frers 45 Divide By Zero (John Lanigan).

Cantillo, who was ranked first in the Class of 2018, was one of three recent Naval Academy graduates aboard Tenacious. Ensign Teddy Papenthien and second Lieutenant Gunnar Hough led the crew as watch captains. Those three sailors brought considerable offshore experience to the team, which featured five rising sophomores making their offshore debut.

“It was one heck of an introduction to ocean racing for the plebes,” Cantillo said. “This was my fifth leg to Bermuda and by far the roughest I’ve encountered.”

Cantillo echoed the race description provided on Friday by Fox in stating that Tenacious encountered a light air beat during the Chesapeake Bay portion and practically drifted toward the Gulf Stream during the first day in the Atlantic Ocean.

“A nasty northeaster came through about a day after we crossed the stream and we saw winds in excess of 30 knots and waves around 15 to 20 feet,” Cantillo said. “We wound up having two days of very intense weather conditions.”

Tenacious made good speed while reaching along with the heavy air spinnaker, staysail and double-reef main. Rising junior George Hamilton spent a lot of time at the wheel during the roughest stretches of racing.

“Our navigational strategy was to go south of the rhumb line because the Gulf Stream was pushing the fleet north,” Cantillo said. “Our overriding strategy was to keep the boat moving fast and headed in the direction.”

Cantillo thought the braintrust aboard Tenacious was wise to use its weather data to anticipate the oncoming squalls and position the boat to take advantage. Hough and Papenthien also had the foresight to have the crew reduce sail before the heavy air swept in.

“Anticipating and preparation were really important in this race. We got whacked several times, but we were always ready because we knew what was coming,” Cantillo said. “We set up in such a way that we could turn and run with the squall while heading in the right direction, which allowed us to make gains. I think some other boats got caught out by those systems.”

Paul Jervis (headsail trimmer), Darby Meadows (pit), Matthew Ransom (offside trimmer), Matthew Malone (mast) and Carter Stout (foredeck) completed the crew on Tenacious, which had to send someone aloft to repair a broken shroud on approach to Bermuda.

“I don’t have any regrets with the plan we had for the race. We pushed the boat really hard and the crew performed well,” Cantillo said.

O’Brien was making her debut as skipper of Gallant after having previously served as an assistant navigator for the 2016 Annapolis to Bermuda Race. Last summer, the rising senior from Massapequa, New York was assistant navigator on Integrity for the Annapolis-to-Newport Race and Marion-to-Bermuda Race.

“It was definitely a steep learning curve to start off the season. I had to get into more of a tactical mindset,” O’Brien said. “Spring practice taught me a lot about leadership and being able to manage the entire boat.”

O’Brien clearly had her crew prepared for the passage with rising sophomores Michael Stumpf and Nicholas Hogan doing good work as watch captains. Rising junior Thomas Stief served as navigator, which was not an easy task after Gallant was unable to get updated weather data while out in the Atlantic Ocean. Classmate Hayden Kuzemchak filled the role of executive officer and primary helmsman.

“I am very pleased with how the crew did. Everyone worked really hard and performed their individual jobs to the best of their ability,” O’Brien said. “I thought we went into the race with the right mindset. Our initial plan kind of fell apart, but we adapted well. We were always working to keep the boat moving.”

Shuang Hsi, a Tashiba 40 owned by Severn Sailing Association member Joe Cummings, earned the victory in the Chesapeake Racer-Cruiser Association (CRCA) class, which was scored under the Offshore Racing Rule system. Kyra Tallon handled navigation on Shuang Hsi, which posted a corrected time of 5 days, 20 hours, 15 minutes and 42 seconds.

That was more than 42 minutes better than CRCA runner-up Resolute, a Tartan 3500 owned by David Adams of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Jane Says, a J/124 that was sailed double-handed by skipper Robert Dunigan Jr. and crew Dan Lawrence, placed third.

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Source: Bill Wagner, Capital Gazette

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