Sitella and Rattle N Rum new Chesapeake ORC Champions


23 October 2017

  Nobody – neither sailors nor organizers – is happy when lack of wind puts a damper on a long-awaited regatta. Nonetheless, Mother Nature did not cooperate with the Storm Trysail Club’s Annapolis Fall Regatta, which lost almost an entire weekend of windward-leeward racing due to light air on the mid-Chesapeake Bay. And two distance races scored on Friday allowed for just enough racing to allow the crowning of two new ORC Chesapeake champions.

After no races held on Saturday, Principal race officer Dick Neville found a window favorable enough to get in one race on Sunday to send the 15-boat fleet home on a positive note. It was the lone buoy race for the two ORC classes and was held in 5-6 knots of breeze, conditions the rating rule took into account.

“Sailing under ORC made today manageable because the rule adjusts your rating based on the wind and course,” said Ian
Hill, skipper of the XP44 Sitella. “The ORC office and US Sailing did a good job of making sure everyone had the proper rating and I thought the scoring was fair across the board.” Sitella took first place in both legs of the distance race held on Friday then finished second in the buoy race on Sunday to secure victory in ORC 1. It was the second straight year the Hampton Yacht Club entry captured class honors at the Annapolis Fall Regatta.

“I give the race committee a lot of credit for making some good decisions in difficult situations,” said Hill, a resident of Chesapeake, Virginia. “They shortened the course on Friday, which was wise since the wind dropped out. They clearly made the right call in not racing on Saturday and were very fortunate to get one race away today.”

Mark Wheeler served as tactician aboard Sitella, which enjoyed a good battle with another XP44 during the distance race - Bob Cantwell’s Rival – who was runner-up in the 18-nautical mile tour of the bay that took the fleet around government marks. “Mark did a terrific job of calling the shifts on both days. He consistently put the boat on the correct side of the course, which was not easy to do,” Hill said.

Crew boss Martin Casey trimmed headsails along with Jimmy Hardesty and Chad Wilkerson. Quantum Sails’s Dave Flynn trimmed the main while Annapolis-based pro sailor Geoff Ewenson was aboard as navigator, being made available by the unfortunate dismasting on Thursday of Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Botin 44 Interlodge, his intended team for the event. Chuck Eberwine, Samantha Nuerbert, Sean Henry and Chris Korpman combined to work the front of the boat while Tom Fitzsimmons was the floater.

Final results in ORC 2 were not determined until a protest was resolved in Sunday’s race between Slush Fund, Jim Connelly’s J/111, and Mike Beasely’s GP 26 Rattle N Rum. Slush Fund was found to be at fault for not keeping clear on a downwind leg, and so was disqualified, giving the victory to Rattle-n-Rum, who scored 2nd in both the first 14 mile and then the second 18 mile distance races on Friday.

“I don’t like winning through a protest, but when there is an incident that warrants going into the room you have to follow through with it,” Beasley said. “We thought it was clearly a foul and the protest committee agreed.” As for the racing conditions for the regatta, Beasely chuckled, saying“It was a classic Chesapeake Bay roll of the dice, light air, mind-boggling event. All credit to my team for doing a great job of keeping us in what little pressure there was. We did a lot of work over the summer to get the systems sorted on the boat, made some small changes here and there to get things improved.”

Joe Gibson called tactics and also trimmed the headsails aboard Rattle-n-Rum, which also earned the overall Palmetto Trophy for top performance among four classes of ORC entries at this year’s Sperry Charleston Race Week. Teddy Haaland handled the foredeck while Joanna Haaland did runners and Ryan Rutkowski worked the pit.




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