Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Racing Preview

The wind is up in Annapolis and this likely means one thing. We’re approaching the miraculous few weeks where we have consistent breeze. It’s not a coincidence that the best conditions for racing typically hail some of our most exciting regattas and this year is no different. These events include the recently passed Annapolis Race Week, Oxford race, and J/35 NAs, as well as the upcoming IRC Championships, Farr 40 NAs, Beneteau 36.7 NAs and J/105 Chesapeake Bay Championships all being held in October.

A very important part of fall racing, albeit of lower profile than the North American Championships that surround it, is the Annapolis Yacht Club fall series. In recent years racers would compete on three consecutive Saturdays or Sundays (depending which fleet you were in) in windward/leeward drop mark races. However this year looks to be different, one may even say the metaphorical leaves are changing colors this year for the layout for this year’s fall series.

The first Saturday of October will introduce a distance race where all boats in all classes (as well as having a Farr 40 and non-spin divisions) will compete in a distance race of 8-40 miles depending on conditions. The following weekend will feature two days of racing for PHRF B, C, J/105, J/30, and J/24s. While the following weekend will be two days for the PHRF A0, A1, A2 as well as the J/35, B 36.7s. My discussions with fellow sailors show a decidedly ambiguous sentiment towards the change.

One benefit is that it adds another dimension to the racing with the addition of a distance race. There now is more fairness given to boats that aren’t as well suited for windward-leeward races and may draw in some boats that may not potentially sign up for the series were it only windward-leeward.

It may potentially encourage more people to come in from out of town to compete. Rather than having to come for three consecutive weekends they will only have to come for two weekends. Additionally the time commitment changes, people now have to dedicate all of one weekend and part of another rather than a part of three weekends, which is good and bad depending who you ask. Good for anyone who likes football that was in the Sunday fleet.

A potential downside is that if bad weather rolls through on one of those weekends, it’s likely to throw a bigger wrench in the mix as adverse weather could potentially ruin two out of three days of your fall series regatta.

As it usually is, one of these weekends coincides with the Annapolis Boat show so for those who attend the boat show won’t miss just one day of the series, you’ll miss two of three days of the series. Fortunately for those sailing in A0, A1, A2, J/35 and B 36.7s fleets, the boat show makes no difference at all, where in previous years you may have been out one of three day of the series; now they won’t miss a single day.

No matter how you feel about the format all that really matters if you ask me is that once you’re on the water the fall series promises to be competitive and enjoyable.

Since this is my first blog post I'll take a brief minute to introduce myself, my name is Matt Fafoutis and I work in Customer Service. I grew up in NJ and went to college at St. Mary's College of Maryland. I currently live in Baltimore and have been at APS since June of 2010. I for one, am very excited for fall racing and especially the new format of fall series.

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