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Innovation in Annapolis Yacht Club Signature Regattas
The Annapolis Yacht Club Sailing Committee is always seeking feedback from participants about how to improve its sailboat racing offerings. That process has produced one slight change to the AYC Racing Schedule for the 2019 season.

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Innovation in Annapolis Yacht Club Signature Regattas

The Annapolis Yacht Club Sailing Committee is in constant communication with its constituency. Whether on-site during regattas or through surveys submitted afterward, the club is always seeking feedback from participants about how to improve its sailboat racing offerings.  

That process has produced one slight change to the AYC Racing Schedule for the 2019 season with the format for both the Annual Regatta and Fall Series being altered.  

Annapolis Yacht Club has announced that a distance racing component will be added to those two regattas for the larger one-design classes and handicap divisions.  

“We want to make racing for the larger one-designs and the handicap classes a little more user-friendly than the typical short windward-leeward courses,” AYC Sailing Committee Chairman John White said.  

For the AYC Annual Regatta, being held the weekend of July 27-28, the Saturday racing for the smaller one-design classes remains unchanged. That means the J/22, J/70, J/80, and J/30 classes will engage in the traditional short-course, windward-leeward racing.  

Also on Saturday, the Harbor 20 and Cal 25 classes will do short-course racing on a separate course set in the Severn River, most likely off the Naval Academy sea wall.

Meanwhile, the bigger boats that compete on Sunday – the J/35 and J/105 one-designs along with the ORC classes – will now enjoy some variety, mixing windward-leeward action with a distance race around government marks on the Chesapeake Bay. Length of the distance race will depend on conditions with the race committee finishing boats near the mouth of the Severn River.  

“We have decided to incorporate both styles of racing into the same day to make it a little more inviting,” White said. “We want the sailors to have the best of both worlds.”  

AYC has moved the Annual Regatta to the last weekend in July in order to avoid conflicts with the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge and the Race to Baltimore.  

Annapolis Yacht Club’s popular Fall Series will be altered in a similar fashion with the first weekend (Sept. 28-29) featuring strictly windward-leeward racing for the smaller one-design classes (J/22, J/30, J/70, J/80).  

In an exciting development, the J/22 class will conduct its Mid-Atlantic Championship as part of the AYC Fall Series.  

Keeping with the philosophical change, the larger one-design classes (J/35, J/105) and ORC classes will split the second weekend of Fall Series into one day of windward-leeward competition and another day of distance racing around government marks.

Race committee officials will determine based off conditions which type of racing will be held on Saturday. Scoring for the distance race will be weighted in such a way as to ensure equity between the two days of competition.  

“We have made a commitment to even the program between the windward-leeward and longer course racing,” White said.  

That second weekend of Fall Series has been shifted ahead one weekend in order to avoid conflicting with the United States Sailboat Show.  

There will be a third component of the AYC Fall Series with the Harbor 20 class racing in the Severn River on Saturday, October 12.  

Annapolis Yacht Club Vice Commodore Jonathan Bartlett said the format changes to the Annual Regatta and Fall Series were driven by competitors.  

“I think it’s a good change because this is something the sailors want, which is more variety,” said Bartlett, a veteran professional with North Sails-Chesapeake. “We like the idea of not having just windward-leeward style racing. Skippers have gravitated back to doing government mark racing because it requires less crew.”  

Bartlett said a mixture of windward-leeward and government mark courses also provides participants with different types of racing.  

“You factor in broad reaching and tight reaching, which you don’t do in the windward-leeward format,” he said. “It also reduces the importance of precise crew work because there is more time to prepare for a maneuver. Sometimes that maneuver may only involve easing off 10 degrees.”  

Cedric Lewis, co-owner of the J/105 Mirage, welcomed the addition of a distance race for both the AYC Annual Regatta and Fall Series.  

“I am glad they are bringing back the distance race. It gets pretty monotonous just going around the buoys all the time. The distance racing around government marks requires other skills (navigation and tactics) that don’t normally get used around the buoys,” Lewis said. “You have to be able to change gears to adapt to conditions and current relative to the race course. I like the variety of courses.  It is a true test of sailing skills where the better teams usually prevail.”  

Annapolis Yacht Club is pleased to announce the second installments of a pair of popular point-to-point races that were introduced last year. The Spring Race to Oxford and Fall Race to Solomons both attracted large fleets and participants thoroughly enjoyed the awards parties. 

“I think the Oxford and Solomons races were very successful and quickly became two of the most exciting events we offer,” White said. “We are making every effort to further enhance those two races in terms of the on and off water experience.”  

Early indications are that Annapolis Yacht Club’s two point-to-point races to bookend the racing calendar will develop into annual traditions.  

“We had fantastic attendance for Oxford and Solomons and are really looking forward to building off both,” Bartlett said. “Both races provide a challenging course with a great destination and fun party.”  

AYC’s Regatta calendar is posted on their website on the Racing Page, and Notices of Race will be posted for each in the coming weeks with online registration open at that time.

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