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Rockin’ And Rollin’ - RBSA First Race Night

Rockin’ And Rollin’ - RBSA First Race Night

Himmel sailed with a reefed main.

Himmel sailed with a reefed main.

Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2021 4:13 pm

By Mary Marta

With an average windspeed of 22 knots and gusts of 30 to 35, Round Bay Sailing Association (RBSA) hosted its first race of the season on April 21. Temperatures were decreasing during the race starting at 50 degrees, with wind chill much lower, prompting one tactician to say, “This was a good night to be a grinder; at least they were warm!” Four of the usual 20 or so boats started the race. Of those, two boats grounded, one boat had equipment failure, one had to retire early. In other words, all had the opportunity to test their boats and crew under heavy wind conditions.

Mark Lister, skipper of Winsome Ride, sailed with a heavily reefed main and his usual complement of six crew members. Lister said, “Last night was a good shakedown cruise. It’s good to get out early in heavy winds to make sure that equipment is working properly and to give the crew experience in heavy winds.” With only four boats on the race course, there “was plenty of room to maneuver,” which made the heavy wind conditions a good test.

Indeed, it was a challenging night to sail, as both Annapolis Yacht Club and Magothy River Association canceled racing for April 21. The wind conditions favored the large, heavy boats, according to Mark Oursler, race committee (RC) chair. Most of the lighter, smaller boats in the fleet didn’t brave the conditions. For 2021, the RBSA board implemented the ORR-EZ time-on-distance handicap system. In addition, RBSA updated the sailing instructions to include a novel starting procedure. Given the heavy wind conditions, the new handicapping system and new RC procedures, it was a race to remember!

As to the groundings, the race mark “N” on the course for April 21 is somewhat close to shore. A few years back, the club moved the mark so that it would be further from the shore and shoaling area. However, according to the club commodore Don Snelgrove, mark N presents a challenge and must be rounded in a seaman-like way, going in wide and coming out tight. Snelgrove’s boat, Himmel, draws 6.5 feet, so Himmel must be very careful with mark N roundings. Snelgrove commented that the heavy winds were a “wonderful experience for the crew because it’s very rare to have heavy weather in Round Bay on the Severn.” He also noted that the main trimmer was busy during the race and that, overall, the race was good experience for an upcoming offshore race, Annapolis to Newport, for which Himmel (Winsome Ride and A L'Assaut) are registered. As Rum Puppy tactician Collin Jones commented, the race was “an adventure.”

Rum Puppy, skippered by Kevin Fitzgerald, experienced equipment damage. During the pre-race sequence with a gust of 30 knots, the jib halyard on Rum Puppy failed and crew had to race under mainsail alone. It proved challenging but Fitzgerald said, “It was pretty windy, but exciting to get out for the first Wednesday race. Overall, it was fun for the first race of the year; everyone was anxious to be out on the water.”

Ken Shuart, skipper of Lightfoot, agreed that it was a challenging race. He said the heavy winds during the race “put skipper and crew to the test. When wind is that high, you can’t take things for granted as you can with light air.”

Don Snelgrove's Dehler 39 "Himmel" took the honors for the first race of the season.

Article | by Dr. Radut