Friday’s fleet of starters featured the
following classes: ORC 2, Performance Cruising, PHRF Classic, ORR 2 and
Doublehanded. A second start will be held Saturday morning (11 a.m.) for the
five remaining classes: ORC 1A, ORC 1B, PHRF Racing 1, PHRF Racing 2, and ORR 1.
“It’s looking like a beam reach down the bay and a
broad reach up the coast,” said Rick Lober, skipper of the Beneteau 473
Celerity that is competing in ORR 2. “It would be incredible if we didn’t have
any windward legs.”
Lober and his Celerity team made their debut in the
2017 Annapolis-to-Newport Race and finished fourth in the Performance Cruiser
class. Celerity was among many boats that got smacked by a severe squall in the
Atlantic Ocean and that was a lesson learned for Lober.
“I found that sail changes
are important. You’ve got to be prepared to reduce sail in advance of heavy
air,” he said. “So it’s really about being aware of what’s coming and acting
Bingman has been carefully
studying five different weather models and said most show reaching conditions
for a majority of the 475-nautical mile passage from Annapolis-to-Newport.
“I think the Friday starters will have a
short beat in the Atlantic Ocean after rounding the Chesapeake Light tower,”
Bingman said. “Right now the prediction does show the wind cranking to the
east, which would put the fleet on a reach in the ocean.”
Bingman said forecasts show some severe weather
hitting around the time most of the 52 boats will be approaching the entrance
of the Delaware Bay.
“It looks like the faster boats may be able to finish
on a reach. However, I’m thinking the slower boats may need to do some beating
to get into Newport,” Bingman said.
In 2017, host Annapolis Yacht Club finished the race
off Fort Adams. Organizers have rectified an issue with the local Coast Guard
station and the Annapolis to Newport Race will once again have its traditional
finish off Castle Hill Light this year.
“It’s a terrific team-building event and there is also
a great sense of accomplishment upon completing a race like this. Doing
Annapolis-to-Newport is something you remember all your life,” said Lober, who
has a crew that ranges in age and experience. “We have a nice blend of seasoned
sailors and twenty-somethings who will do a lot of the heavy lifting.”
Odette, a Hylas 56 owned by Annapolis Yacht Club
member Jasen Adams, will have four teenagers as part of its 10-member crew. Alex Adams was 13 years old when he crewed for his father in the 2017
Annapolis-to-Newport Race, logging more than 100 miles as helmsman in helping
Odette to a runner-up finish in Performance Cruiser class.
“We have a platform that is comfortable and can
accommodate a lot of people. We’re all about ocean racing and introducing more
sailors to ocean racing,” Jasen Adams said.
Alex Adams attends the Portsmouth Abbey School and
will have two teammates – Evan Boyd and Jenna Palmer – aboard Odette. St.
Mary’s-Annapolis sailor Andrew Tollefson, a lifelong friend of the younger
Adams, is also part of the crew.
“We do have a core crew of five sailors who have
logged thousands of miles on Odette. That being said, we’re certainly aware
that we have some novice ocean racing crew,” Jasen Adams said. “We’ll take each
decision as it comes. Having spent some time with these sailors, I think we’ll
be fine. Again, Odette is a very seaworthy platform with a wide weather
Alex Adams received the Youth Helmsman Award for the
2017 A2N and hopes to repeat that honor while steering during both watches. He
is one of three principal drivers aboard Odette along with his father and Rich
Alex Adams was asked what his three friends would
learn during their longest, and in some cases first, offshore passage.
“It’s definitely different from dinghy sailing,” he
said. “I think it’s a very rewarding experience you can’t get anywhere else. They
will learn how to be part of a racing crew and the importance of fulfilling
your specific role.”
Annapolis resident Ken Comerford is skippering a J/111
named Moneypenny and will have his two sons – Kyle and Willy – as part of the
crew. Kyle Comerford recently completed an outstanding career as skipper of the
SUNY-Maritime offshore sailing team while younger brother Willy competes at the
College of Charleston.
“As you get older, I think you do anything
you can to spend time with your kids,” said Ken Comerford, getting choked up as
he spoke. “I do very much appreciate every opportunity I get to go sailing with
There is quite a rivalry between the Comerford
brothers, and it will no doubt manifest itself at some point during the long
trip between Annapolis and Newport. Kyle is serving as navigator while Willy
has agreed to handle the foredeck out of necessity.
“They both have their own strengths and skills,” Ken
Comerford said. “Willy has really impressed me with his ability on the bow. Kyle
will be doing the navi-guessing the whole way, making sure we’re pushing the boat as fast as we can and living up to
veteran ocean racer with many miles under his belt, expects a fairly
“I don’t think it’s going to be a big tactical race. I
think it’s going to be a drag race with a lot of reaching,” he said. “Every
time we run our models the wind seems to go farther and farther aft, which
would be good for this boat.”
shooting to break course record for Annapolis-to-Newport Race
Prospector blasted off the starting line while being
powered by a fractional asymmetrical spinnaker and staysail configuration.
Part-owner Marty Roesch was at the helm as the Mills
68-footer rapidly pulled away from the rest of the 23-boat fleet that started
the Annapolis-to-Newport Race on Saturday morning.
Prospector, owned by a syndicate known as Shelter
Island Transatlantic Partners, was passing Poplar Island just over a half hour
after starting. Larry Landry, one of four owners, was hopeful of exiting the
Chesapeake Bay by around 8 p.m. on Saturday.
“This boat really has some giddy-up to her,” said
Landry, noting the Mills 68 has reached speeds of 25 knots downwind.
Indeed, Prospector was rocketing along at
approximately 17 knots on a tight reach on Saturday and was soon out of sight
of the large spectator fleet that gathered for the second Annapolis-to-Newport
Conditions were similar to those that propelled the
Friday starters down the bay – 10 to 14 knots out of the east-northeast with
gusts in the upper teens.
Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners initially got
involved with grand prix offshore racing with the original Prospector, a Farr
60 built by Carroll Marine. That boat was formerly known as Carrera and set the
Annapolis-to-Newport Race record in 2001. Annapolis professional Chris Larson
skippered as Carrera completed the 475-nautical mile course in 42 hours, 58
minutes and 12 seconds.
That course record stood for 15 years until it was
finally broken during the 2017 edition of Annapolis-to-Newport. Warrior, a
Volvo 70 skippered by Stephen Murray Jr., completed the passage in 40 hours, 14
minutes and 36 seconds.
Prospector’s four owners,
which include Paul McDowell and Dr. David Siwicki in addition to Landry and
Roesch, are hopeful of bettering Warrior’s mark.
“This boat is most certainly capable of
breaking the record,” Landry said on Friday night. “I think the forecast might
put us in position to do so.”
Weather Routing Incorporated, which is
providing daily forecasts for A2N, shows the Saturday starters enjoying running
and reaching conditions well into Sunday morning. Long-range forecasts call for
the wind to shift east then east-southeast, which would produce downwind
conditions in the Atlantic Ocean as well.
“It appears to be a very
favorable forecast, but you just never know what the wind conditions will actually
be,” said McDowell, adding that it sets up as “a rather unusual
Annapolis-to-Newport in terms of sailing angles.”
Landry and McDowell agreed it’s imperative
that Prospector be able to head toward Newport upon entering the Atlantic
Ocean. If the predicted easterly wind shift does not come through, the Mills 68
might have to head offshore for many hours in order to improve its sailing
“This race is going to hinge on when we get
into the ocean and what we find out there. The timing of that shift in the
ocean will be crucial,” Landry said. “We need to be able to turn left and go
northeast in the ocean. So that right-hand shift is a critical variable for
Prospector is doing A2N with a primarily
amateur crew with the four owners holding important roles. Landry is the tactician
while McDowell and Roesch are aboard watch captains. Dr. Siwicki, one of the
three original owners along with Landry and McDowell, works the pit.
Roesch, an Annapolis resident who owns the
J/111 Velocity, recently joined the partnership and is one of the primary helmsmen
along with McDowell. Artie Means (navigator), Henry Little (runners), Dave
Scott (main trimmer), Stuart MacNeil (headsail trimmer) and Quinn Tobin (pit)
are the professionals onboard.
“This is a very good all-around boat that
performs well in all points of sail,” McDowell said. “It is very well-built and
sails very nicely whether going upwind or downwind.”
Saturday’s start featured entries in ORC 1A
and 1B, PHRF 1, and ORR 1. Rikki, a Reichel-Pugh 42 owned by Boston resident
Bruce Chafee, quickly established itself as the second-fastest boat behind
A group of five Farr
40-footers campaigned by Oakcliff Sailing and the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team raced
in close quarters – separated by just a few hundred yards.
based in Oyster Bay, New York, is a high-performance training center for young
sailors who have progressed beyond traditional training methods. Oakcliff has
three Farr 40s (Black, Blue and Red) competing in the 37th biennial
Meanwhile, Navy has entered its two Farr 40s,
Ranger and Zephyr, with crews consisting entirely of midshipmen. Hayden
Kuzemchak is skippering Ranger while fellow rising senior Zack Bauer is
“Of course, the number one
goal is to win the race. However, we also want to improve our sailing skills
and gain valuable offshore experience,” Kuzemchak said. “If we can accomplish
both of those goals the Ranger crew is going to be very satisfied.”
Bauer said the Navy teams want to beat each
other, first and foremost. However, both Ranger and Zephyr are determined to
finish in front of all three Oakcliff entries.
“It’s definitely super-competitive between
the two Navy crews and bragging rights are really at stake in this race because
of how challenging it is,” Bauer said. “We’re looking to stay safe, be
competitive within our class and definitely take it to Oakcliff.”
Jim Praley, chairman of the
Annapolis-to-Newport Race, participated in the Saturday start aboard the
family-owned J/120 named Shinnecock. Jimmy Praley held the title of skipper and
steered at the start while his father and namesake is serving as navigator.
“We feel like we have a really robust fleet this
year with a good mix of veteran competitors and newcomers to
Annapolis-to-Newport,” Jim Praley said. “I think it’s going to be a great race
with excellent conditions and a lot of people are going to walk away happy.”
Praley, who just completed his second and
last term as A2N chairman, was pleased to have 19 boats competing under the ORC
rating rule that is being offered for the first time in A2N. Most of the 12
entries racing under the ORR rule are racer-cruiser designs.
Host Annapolis Yacht Club devotes
considerable resources during the two-year buildup to Annapolis-to-Newport and
the Friday-Saturday starters were the culmination of many volunteer hours.
Praley singled out Linda Ambrose, regatta manager for AYC, for special praise.
“Linda is absolutely fabulous. You could not
possibly pull off an event of this magnitude without someone like Linda, who is
a true professional and so dedicated,” Praley said. “I cannot even imagine how
many hours she puts into this race. I don’t know Linda’s husband very well, but
he must be the most tolerant man in the world.”
Upon conclusion of this year’s passage, all
participating boats will be berthed at the Newport Yachting Center. There will
be a hospitality tent on site with partners such as Helly Hansen (merchandise),
Barbados Tourism Marketing (travel and leisure), Gosling’s (spirits) and
Boston Beer all maintaining a presence.
“I think it’s a real plus on a lot of levels
to have all the boats at the same location. There’s a lot of camaraderie on the
docks of the Newport Yachting Center as the sailors tell sea stories and either
celebrate or commiserate as the case may be,” Praley said.