Navy Offshore Sailing Team Wins Big at Annapolis-to-Newport Race

The 37th Annapolis-to-Newport sailing race is in the books, and teams will be talking about this one for years to come.

Gallant bowman Zachary Krause (left) and Varsity Offshore Team Director Jahn Tihansky (right) with the Chip Thayer Perpetual Trophy. Photo: Bill Wagner.

The biennial race put on by the Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC) took sailors on a 475-nautical mile passage, with heavy winds and high seas throughout the Atlantic Ocean portion of the race.

The biggest winners by far were the Naval Academy’s varsity offshore sailing team members, who took home a total of 13 trophies and finished one-two in both the ORC 1A and ORC 2 classes. Navy’s two Farr 40-footers, Ranger and Zephyr, battled back and forth to the finish. In the end, Ranger beat Zephyr by just under 16 minutes (corrected time).

Navy’ two Mark II 44-footer training vessels didn’t have such close results, with Gallant beating Defiance by 2 hours and 18 minutes on corrected time.

Navy Varsity Offshore Team Director Jahn Tihansky praised all of the sailors for their seamanship and boat-handling:

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team. It was a very tough, grueling race and our crews were more than up to that challenge,” Tihansky said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better race to challenge our sailors. This Annapolis-to-Newport gave them the opportunity to be tested in a tough environment and see what they’re made of.”

Gallant’s corrected time of 4 days, 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 6 seconds was the largest margin of victory among the 19 ORC entries. The Navy 44 also earned the newly-created Chip Thayer Perpetual Trophy for lowest elapsed time among Friday starters (non-foiling).

As Navy thrived in eight-foot seas, AYC says multiple entries were forced to drop out due to seasickness.

Prospector, a Mills 68 that was on track to beat the Annapolis-to-Newport record, was dismasted in the Atlantic Ocean, but luckily no one was hurt. Two other boats had minor electrical fires.

Temptress, a Taylor 41 owned by Rhode Island’s Jay Gowell, suffered an engine fire while the crew was charging the batteries.

“We saw a lot of smoke coming out of the engine box so we got the life rafts into the cockpit and harnesses on,” Gowell says.

When they realized the motor was fried and the electronics needed to be shut down, the crew had to sail with the Windex and a hand-held VHF tuned to Channel 16.

“We were about 90 miles south of Delaware Bay and had no instruments for the rest of the race, but we were able to keep the hammer down and just kept racing like we were sailing a dinghy,” he said. “We had some good helmsman.”

To see the full race results from the 2019 Annapolis-to-Newport, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano