The Inaugural Fiasco Race Didn’t Follow “the Rules” of August
Everybody knows that sailing in Annapolis is best done in the spring and the fall. 2020 is clearly not following the rules and what has always been normal is now turned on its head. Enter the Two Bridge Fiasco.
On Sunday, August 2, 133 boats were on the water to race in the first ever Two Bridge Fiasco hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC). Following the rough sketch laid out by St Francis YC in San Francisco for the annual Three Bridge Fiasco, the course is not your standard windward leeward affair.
The idea is to start near the opening of the Severn river, sail past a mark near the Bay Bridge and one near the Naval Academy Bridge, and finish back at the same point near the opening of the Severn… The Fiasco part comes when you realize you can go in either direction around the course! One other notable addition to the fiasco is the fact that this was a single and double handed only event.
Everything from catboats, to Rainbows, to 505s and Vipers, large PHRF animals, and even super sleek catamarans and foiling windsurfers were on the track and mixing it up. The pursuit race was based on both PHRF and Portsmouth handicap systems, and the question over the few days prior to the start was obvious: “Up the river or out to the Bay first?”
With a forecast of a building southerly and a change in the current roughly at start time it made for an interesting and excellent challenge. Boat handling in tight quarters with shorthanded crew was also a huge factor.
It seemed that the majority of early starters opted to sail out into the Bay first. The start line was set up close to a normal line, and the fleets generally lined up on starboard as normal. There was enough space, of course, to find a spot and head the other way, but most opted to head out to the Bay.
There are some shallows to navigate around before making the turn northeast toward the Bay bridge, smaller boats were able to cut the corner on some of the bigger boats giving them a nice advantage.
The contrarians who opted to head up the river first were met with a funneling breeze that turned the river into a VMG run before a beat back out past the US Naval Academy. Once in the open and past the academy, the breeze settled in more of a southerly and made for a one-tack beat out to the Bay and past the same shallows that mark the turn toward the Bay Bridge.
In the end the fastest boats that happily sail two up, seemed to rise to the top of the fleet. The fastest overall boat was an F18 catamaran owned by Sam Carter with local favorite Jahn Tihansky sailing with him and followed by an Inter 20 with Kristien Bergson and Robert Lancaster. In fact, four of the top five boats were all beach cats who loved the building and predominantly one-tack beats and tight reaches! The one outlier in the top five was Brendan Connell on his 505 with Chase Hillyer on the wire; they finished third and clearly they were thriving in the same conditions!
In the end there were 10 separate classes and the results of each class was a nice mix of very different style boats. The results can be found online of course, but the story was all about the fun of the day.
It is unusual to have 133 boats all racing together on a 12-mile course. It is a sign of the times that this many folks were psyched to sail single and double handed on boats that might normally have up to 10 people on the rail! The atmosphere this season is all about having fun and getting on the water…
Bravo to AYC for hosting such an out of the box type of event that was truly welcoming to every imaginable type of boat and sailor!
If there could have been an after-race party tent, this might have been the best party of the year! We will have to settle for the memories, the shared stories on the phones and via text after the racing, and the pure joy of knowing that it is never any good to go racing in Annapolis in August!
~By Geoff Ewenson
There’s tons of racing on the Bay coming up…. Find regattas here.