Southern Bay Race Week

Southern Bay Race Week Happens Once a Year... Now! 

Southern Bay Race Week (SBRW) happens early in the season. Opening night is Thursday May 30, and the event runs through the first weekend of June. It happens only once each year. If you miss it, it’s a year-long wait for the next one. There is no re-do, no try-over, no substitute. SBRW is the only time this year when so many boats of every stripe, handicap, one-design, and cruising, come from far and wide to race on the southern Chesapeake.

Southern Bay Race Week
Neil and Lis Biondi Ford on their Melges 24 Danger Paws at Southern Bay Race Week. Photo by 

This we know: Spring flowers bloom once each year, this time of year. There is enough beer and good cheer for another full season of racing on the Chesapeake Bay, right now. When the boat is splashed at the boatyard, the new bottom job is undefeated, as of that day. The crew will only get better all summer. The skipper... will be the skipper, our skipper, all summer. We are about to embark on one of the best times of our lives: every race, every hoist, every start, every finish. That’s what Southern Bay Race Week (SBRW) is to the racers, families, and friends who gather late May/early June to begin again, right now. And, a high percentage of participants are returnees. This year, renewing their bond with the regatta, the U.S. Naval Academy will send four Navy 44s, skippers, and crews to SBRW. 

Excitement is building. When SBRW participants begin to arrive, some a week earlier as part of the annual Down the Bay Race (120 miles non-stop from Annapolis to Hampton), they will be greeted at regatta headquarters, Hampton Yacht Club (HYC). All participants can expect free rafting, and for highway warriors, free trailer storage and free use of the three HYC dockside hoists. Special consideration will be given to those wishing to reserve slips (at a moderate cost) by contacting Rich Ash, HYC manager, at (757) 722-0711 to get on his slip reservation list. 

This year the J/105 class will race one design on the Big Boat Course, and PHRF classes will be contesting the Southern Bay Championship. The Melges 24 class, in its second year in the one-design division at SBRW is growing, and competitors can expect three days of good racing and a chance to spend time with others who love racing their Melges 24s. Cruisers have the option of racing in the traditional SBRW Cruising Non-Spinnaker fleet (complimentary rating/no fleet regulations), or the more restricted PHRF Cruising Non-Spin or the PHRF Cruising Spinnaker fleets, all three in the Cruising Division. 

Everyone will have skin in the SBRW trophy game for dailies, Boat of the Day flags, and fleet overall awards. Competing at SBRW means skippers and crew are racing with sailing brethren from the local Hampton Roads area and all around the Chesapeake Bay and beyond. 

SBRW has racing for everybody. Don’t forget the Black Seal Cup, sponsored by longtime supporter, Goslings Rum, which has already delivered the trademark Black Seal hats for skippers and crew. A special highlight Saturday night will be the USNA Midshipmen performing their inspirational evening colors ceremony.

So, the time is here. Southern Bay Race Week with all the things that make it a racers’ regatta is ready. The racing on three separate venues is set, the regatta tent will be pitched adjacent to the main entrance of the HYC clubhouse, and the lifts, dry storage area, and docks are ready and commissioned for the arrival of regatta participants. The HYC staff and the army of volunteers are ready to welcome the visitors and make their stay a collection of renewed friendships, great racing, memorable parties, and plans to return in 2025! Find details at:

Y’all come racing! 

By Lin McCarthy

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