Potapskut SA... Old Club, New Ideas

psaLet’s Race to Rock Hall!

As a newly elected officer of the Potapskut SA (PSA), my responsibilities for handling the club’s bay racing activities actually started before being voted into office.  CBYRA’s first race planning meeting was fast approaching in mid-October, and I was instructed to attend.  At that meeting, the faces of two familiar Magothy sailors, Tom Price and Angelo Guarino, put me at ease.

Mark McGonigal introduced himself as the meeting began and we got right down to business.  He presented timelines and the 2013 proposed racing calendar and explained a few fotnotes along the way. PSA has three CBYRA bay races, one in June and two in September.  When the September calendar was presented for discussion, it appeared that the last weekend was completely open, and after a quick discussion with Tom, decided to move our Queenstown races to September 28-29.

The Queenstown races had been in place for 74 years, but participation was steadily declining. Something needed to be done—and soon—before the event collapsed completely. Several factors came into play when evaluating the race: 1) Competition from Hospice cup; 2) Mother nature had seen to it that the channel into Queenstown Creek was steadily shoaling in; 3) Declining participation of bay racing in general; and 4) Lack of shore/land facility.

Weighing all these together, the writing was on the wall: abandon the event altogether or make significant changes to attract sailors and ensure its success. I asked Tom what he thought of racing to Rock Hall instead of Queenstown and voila! A new race was born! Before the CBYRA meeting ended, we had a new date and a new destination. Now the tough work lies ahead.

The first order of business was to pursuade PSA membership on the idea. After all, my tenure with the club was just one year young, and it’s important to get a feel for these things before committing political suicide.  Initially there was a little pushback, but most members probably came to the same realizations some time ago but were just unsure what to do about it. As I discussed the concept with my PSA racing buddies, the Rock Hall race seemed to gather momentum.  Our Commodore—her hands already full with an upcoming “Potapskut Sailing Association’s 75th Anniversary Party”—gave the go ahead, after discussing this with our board of directors. So far, so good!

Rock Hall has huge advantages over Queenstown: deep water, lots of marinas, restaurants and eateries, hot showers, toilets that flush and . . .  free shuttle service!  But no yacht clubs to help sponsor this event. After calling a few marinas, the message was loud and clear: “Call Haven Harbour” they all said. They have the facility to host your event and are quite good at it—two pools, outdoor Tiki bar, hospitality center.  WOW, how lucky can you get?

After a few conversations with Hal Hopkins, their dockmaster, it was a done deal.  But a few problems still existed: Rock Hall marinas have a friendly team racing event each September known as the “Hunting Point Cup” – also scheduled for our chosen weekend.  After a few days, Hal called back to inform me that the marinas had agreed to move their date in favor of our race.  GREAT NEWS!

Not only will they reserve a section of 20 slips for us, but will allow for multi-hulls to raft up and will run a tender service for those who want to anchor out. If they run out of slips, racers will be directed to Osprey Point – right next door.

So the event now had a destination and an enthusiastic welcoming party ashore, now we just needed some racers!

At the second CBYRA race planning meeting, Mark presented some new information and reviewed the race calendar again.  At that meeting, I announced a few details of our new event, which attracted some interest and a few questions.  At the end of that meeting, Penny Zahn, the COD chairman invited me to their next meeting at the CBYRA office the following week.  All the cruising one design fleet reps were in attendance, and I had a chance to present an overview of our new race to them.

My energies were not focused on the Annapolis crowd alone though.  With the help of Tim Hall, CBYRA Region II VP, I was able to obtain contact information for Rock Creek, Baltimore City, Northpoint and Glenmar sailing clubs, in hopes of attracting some interest from a few clubs just north of the Magothy. Tim has proven to be a great resource and even created some ingenious artwork for us to include on posters and T-shirts.

We offered to move the start of the race from its traditional Baltimore Light – possibly as far north as 7 foot knoll, - placing as many options on the table as possible.  Moving the starting line north by default, would come at the expense of any Annapolis boats making the trek north from the Severn. But the decision was made for me when I received confirmation that the Catalina 27 and Cal 25 fleets had indeed committed to our event requesting one design starts.  So Baltimore light it was!

The ink was now dry on the paper and the race announcements in the Green Book.  But there was still more work to do.  How could we some outside support?—aha! SPONSORSHIP.  Our event already advertises a shore party with the famous Bermuda Dark ‘n Stormies—heck, why not call Goslings!?

After a few more calls, with little results, I fired off an email to Rob Rowlands at the CBYRA office. Goslings already sponsors CBYRA’s race week …  Another email off to the Goslings rep, and sure enough, a few days later, the phone rang and BINGO, the last piece of the puzzle is now in place. (By the way, the CBYRA events are # 210 & 211 in the green book)

The point of all this is only that most clubs are facing similar trends and should examine what resources are available to change with the times.  PSA has also embarked on hosting its first CBYRA Junior regatta – deemed a success by our Jr. sailing chair – Larry Morris, with 28 boats participating on July 10th which we hope to build on in succeeding years.

So what’s next for PSA?  We have been approached by the F27 multihull association to host a multi-day national competition in 2014.  Like Rock Hall, we don’t know where that road will lead, but it is worth exploring.

RockHallRace Poster v2

See you in Rock Hall!

John Aellen

Rear Commodore