Gearing Up for Screwpile

SMSA members Elliott and Alexa Peterson's Stingray. Photo by Mark Talbott

Change is hard—until you’ve lived through it and discovered its benefits. That’s what racing sailors experienced at the 2014 Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge (SPLC). Three major changes marked last summer’s event: a date change from Sunday through Tuesday to Friday through Sunday (and subsequent separation from the Solomons Invitational overnighter); welcoming a cruising class; and breaking up the three-day regatta with a Saturday distance race. All changes perked up this favorite summer regatta.

You can expect more of the “new normal” at the 2015 event to be contested off Solomons July 17-19. The distance race was a hugely popular addition to SPLC. As Hampton, VA-based PRO John McCarthy says, “Racers keep saying, ‘Give us some variety.’”

That request is not unique to Chesapeake sailors; it’s an international sailing trend. Smart organizing committees are listening to racing sailors’ requests by breaking up the monotony of windward-leeward races and creating interesting formats such as pursuit-style starts.

At the 2014 SPLC distance race, each class sailed a separate course that made sense for the boats. McCarthy and crew paid special attention to the boat speeds and distances while formatting the race. The end result was picture perfect: a parade of spinnakers off the seawall on Main Street for the whole town to enjoy.

One sailmaker commented that you’d be hard-pressed to find a sailor who didn’t have fun out there, and to have the town of Solomons be able to witness the event, usually held out on the Bay beyond public view, was a special treat.

Here’s a trend we at SpinSheet have tracked over the years: those who score podium finishes at the Screwpile almost always return the next year. Last year’s top finishers were Pete Hunter’s Wairere in PHRF A1, Daniel Rossi’s Bandit in PHRF A2, Barney Hathaway and Tom Mould’s Natural Disaster in PHRF B, Bob Fleck’s Horizon in PHRF C, John White’s unnamed boat in the J/80 class, and Jimmy Yurko on Holder Tight in the cruising class.

The crew of Midnight Mistress having a blast at the awards party.

Daily awards parties on Friday and Saturday begin at 5 p.m. with awards at 6 p.m.; Sunday’s awards should run a bit earlier to enable racers to make their way home. Click to for notice of race and preliminary sailing instructions. You may enter your boat in SPLC on by July 15.

At print time, organizers were seeking a few more volunteers (even unexperienced ones) for race committee boats and bartending duty. If you’re interested, contact L.G. Raley at (301) 862-3100 or [email protected] or Herb Reese at (410) 610-6973 or [email protected].

Screwpile Survival Kit. Be sure to bring: 

  • Hat
  • Teeny bikini
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Ugly Hawaiian shirt
  • Smelly flip-flops
  • Recyclable bottle of water
  • Cash for the bar
  • Fun friends
  • Tums