AYC Sailing Regattas Expand with Distance Races in 2019

Photo: Annapolis Yacht Club

There will be new ways to compete at the Annapolis Yacht Club’s (AYC) 2019 sailing regattas.

AYC is adding a distance racing component to its Annual Regatta (July 27-28) and Fall Series (beginning September 28), for the larger one-design classes and handicap divisions. And AYC just announced that this year’s Fall Series will host the J/22 class Mid-Atlantic Championship.

The yacht club will also bring back a pair of popular point-to-point races from last year— the Spring Race to Oxford and Fall Race to Solomons, both of which had large fleets and fun destination post-race parties.

The distance race changes will go as follows, according to AYC:

The Annual Regatta remains unchanged on Saturday, so the J/22, J/70, J/80, and J/30 classes will race in the usual short-course, windward-leeward style. And the Harbor 20 and Cal 25 classes will do short-course racing on a separate course on the Severn River, most likely off the Naval Academy sea wall.

On Sunday, the the J/35 and J/105 one-designs and 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,” according to AYC.

“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,” says AYC Sailing Committee Chairman John White.

The Fall Series will incorporate similar changes: the first weekend features strictly windward-leeward racing for the smaller one-design classes, and the second weekend, the larger one-design and ORC classes will have one day of windward-leeward competition and another day of distance racing around government marks. The Fall series will continue into a third weekend, with the Harbor 20 class racing in the Severn on Saturday, October 12.

Both racing events have been shifted from their traditional dates due to conflicts with Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge and the Race to Baltimore (Annual Regatta) and the United States Powerboat Show at City Dock (Fall Series).

Annapolis Yacht Club Vice Commodore Jonathan Bartlett says AYC is responding to calls from racers for more variety and different types of racing.

“You factor in broad reaching and tight reaching, which you don’t do in the windward-leeward format,” says Bartlett, a veteran professional with North Sails-Chesapeake.

Some racers agree, saying that distance racing engages navigation and tactics skills that sailing around the buoys doesn’t.

Cedric Lewis, co-owner of the J/105 Mirage, says, “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.”

To see the 2019 AYC race calendar, click here. Notices of Race will be posted for each in the coming weeks with online registration open at that time.

-Meg Walburn Viviano