Photo: Steve Adams

SLIDESHOW: Classic Wooden Beauties Sail the Severn

Wooden sailboat owners of all kinds brought history and elegance to Annapolis this past weekend, in the tenth annual Classic Wooden Sailboat Rendezvous & Race.

For the first time, the Eastport Yacht Club (EYC) hosted the two-day event, formerly a joint project of the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) and the Chesapeake Traditional Sailing Association. NSHOF moved from Annapolis to Newport, Rhode Island last year, so EYC stepped up to keep the tradition going.

The Rendezvous & Race is open to any and all sailing vessels designed before 1970 that are less than 65 feet in length and have a hull built primarily of wood. 

The Saturday rendezvous, which allows the public to tour the boats and meet their owners, was smaller than usual due to some unfortunate last-minute docking fee drama at City Dock. The number of boats on display was limited to just three: 

  • Easterner, a 12-Metre class, 61-year-old former America’s Cup competitor that lives at Annapolis Waterfront Sailing Center, spreads the joy of sailing by hosting groups such as the Wounded Warriors. She is owned and operated by Scott Bernard, who proudly proclaims that “wooden sailboats are about the true history, feel, and spirit of sailing.”
  • Trout, a 95-year-old Star class sailboat owned by Tom Gahs, a longtime sailing ambassador who’s introduced youth groups to sailing aboard the replica 1860s-era sandbaggers Bull and Bear for many years.
  • Witchcraft, a 116-year-old sloop belonging to Dave Butler, who grew up sailing her on the Patuxent River with his father and brother, tracked her down in 2008, and has kept her in “a continuous state of restoration” ever since. Witchcraft has been at all ten Rendezvous weekends.

But dock space didn’t matter on Sunday, as eighteen total boats, from the 10’ Acorn Morgain, helmed by Kristin White and racing in her tenth Classic, to the 74-foot twin tourist schooners Woodwind I and Woodwind II, enjoyed perfect winds and weather while sailing up and down the Severn River in a pursuit-style race. 

Bay Bulletin got a water-level look at the action, taking in the rendezvous and racing by stand up paddleboard. Click to see images of the stunning wooden boats below:

Race results, which all eighteen captains would surely agree were of no importance, were as follows:


Cruising Class: #1 MYRTEA; #2 WITCHCRAFT; #3 LACERTA

Day Boat Class: #1 TROUT; #2 BULL; #3 EASTERNER

Spirit of Tradition: #1 WOODWIND II; #2 WOODWIND I

“Seeing the classic lines and beauty of these boats on the water was like poetry in motion,” said race organizer Maria Museler. “The wind, weather, and organization of the Race Committee made for a very memorable day, and events like this are what make Annapolis the true sailing capital of the world.”

Museler confirmed that EYC hopes to hold the 11th Annual Classic Wooden Sailboat Rendezvous and Race next September.

-Steve Adams