“Two Bridge Fiasco” Sailing Regatta: What Could Go Wrong?

At a time when big events to look forward to are few and far between, the Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC) has come up with a zany sailboat race set to run on Sunday, August 2.

The “Two Bridge Fiasco” is a regatta inspired by the San Francisco Bay’s most popular event, the “Three Bridge Fiasco.” In that famed race, single- or double-handed skippers race around government marks near the Golden Gate Bridge (Blackaller Buoy), the Bay Bridge (Yerba Buena), and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (Red Rock).

What makes things interesting on the course is that competitors may sail the race in whichever direction they choose. AYC will adopt the same concept on the Chesapeake Bay. The first-ever Two Bridge Fiasco course takes boats around marks set just short of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Naval Academy Bridge in Annapolis.

The yacht club promises it will deliver “all sorts of excitement and craziness.”

“People say they want more fun in sailboat racing and that’s what we’re trying to deliver with this regatta,” said Dick Neville, a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club Sailing Committee.

In an intriguing twist, skippers can choose which bridge to sail to first shortly after they start the race.

The San Francisco Bay’s tradition of limiting boats to single-handed or double-handed teams works well for distancing in the coronavirus age, so AYC’s race will carry it on, too.

Within the crew limit, Two Bridge Fiasco is welcoming vessels of all shapes and sizes– including Hobie Cats, Lasers, kiteboards, windsurfers and racing dinghies.

“We welcome any and everything that is powered by wind and sail. If you own it, bring it,” said Kevin Reeds, Co-Chair of the AYC Race Committee. “We’re really hoping we get some smaller boats to join because it would really diversify things.”

The race will be handicapped to accommodate any type of sailing craft. Reeds, the Two Bridges Fiasco’s principal race officer, thinks windsurfers and Hobie Cats will have the edge cutting across the shallows of Greenbury Point, but would be at a disadvantage in rough seas.

Reeds, who was involved with the Three Bridge Fiasco for years while living in San Francisco, believes it draws around 300 boats because of its wild and wacky nature.

Planned for August 2, the Two Bridge Fiasco is a fun way to fill a hole left in the local race calendar on the weekend that was supposed to bring the 47th Governor’s Cup Yacht Race.

“It sounds like an absolute blast,” says Pendleton Alexander, who has entered his J/80 More Cowbell in the Fiasco. “I love creative approaches to sailboat racing. It’s important to try new things, even if they don’t work. It’s essential to growing the sport,” Alexander added. “This is very clever, very crazy, very novel, and very fun.”

AYC hopes the event will attract sailors that aren’t typically race-oriented, removing the necessity to find a large enough crew.

“I think this concept is very exciting and should be particularly appealing to family teams,” says Annapolis Yacht Club Commodore Jonathan Bartlett.

-Meg Walburn Viviano