For Actaea, the Annapolis-Newport race has four completely different legs, each with its own rewards and challenges.
Leg one: the race down the Bay usually manages to present every situation available to inshore racing: current, rapid changes in wind direction, gusts, lulls, restricted waterways, and traffic of all sorts. Boats’ relative positions will change rapidly as they either succeed or fail in exploiting these changes. We feel that it keeps us on our mettle. Sometimes we’ve done well down the Bay (’01, ’07, ’11, ’13) and sometimes just absolutely miserably (’09).
Leg two, the race to Chesapeake Light, is fascinatingly similar to the final finish line sprint in an offshore race: many crews seem to let down or not notice the shifting current and wind. We were bitten by my failure to be fully aware of this in ’11; fortunately for us, most other boats had the same problem. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to finally round that tower! One’s finally offshore.
Leg three, the race to Block Island is alongshore and offshore. It’s a great deal like a Marblehead-Halifax Race. The trick here is to manage the sea breeze that will blow into Assateague in most races and its offshore subsidence zone. Finally, at about Atlantic City, NJ, you get to sprint across New York Bight. I like offshore sailing much more than inshore. The sense of freedom and release on board when this leg begins is palpable. It’s another big reward Annapolis-Newport provides.
Leg four, the management of Block Island and the finish, are the final challenge. Once, bereft of wind, we piloted ourselves in such a way as to actually drift across the finish line in the current. It was a disappointing finish, but finish we did. Twice we’ve screamed across the line at hull speed with chutes and staysail flying, thirty yards off the rocks! Fabulous!
Actaea has had bad results (last across the line; once actually finishing after the Awards’ Ceremony due to major gear failure) and wonderful ones: First in Class, and First in Fleet. The C. Gaither Scott Memorial stands only second to her Lighthouse in her crew’s estimation. We love the race for its changes, challenges and competition. We’ll be back in ’15.
Michael & Connie Cone
Bermuda 40 Yawl Actaea
Every other year, Windborn, her crew, and ‘ground support’, look forward to the Annapolis to Newport Race. It starts with the AYC’s best party of the year. The race features the always interesting run down the Bay, followed by an ocean sail, usually with a good wind angle.
Then comes the fun of passing Castle Hill lighthouse at the finish. We arrive before the tourists invade Newport so ground support is able to enjoy all the fun town has to offer. In 2015, Windborn returned once again with almost the same crew that shared my son, Richard’s, 15th birthday present in 1997 – a crew position on an ocean race!
Has participated in 10+ A2N Races
Double Handed - Civilized Racing: Tonic
When the thrill of being on a fully crewed boat and the camaraderie and satisfaction of teamwork fade to the reality of hot bunking or sleeping on wet sails, and the thought of your turn hitting the head that is in almost constant use gives you pause, and thinking that spending a couple of days living in a locker room is looking good - you know, it's time to think about double handed.
In the double handed class, all the challenges of sail trim, boat handling, and strategic decisions are the same as the other classes and actually even more challenging as it’s just you and one other person. The skillset for both crew is broader than a fully manned crew and the sense of responsibility and accomplishment is greater as well. Double handed is really more like single handed from time and double handed other times. Being immersed (no pun intended) in the range of experiences is complete in the double handed class.
The good news is that you will have plenty of elbow room on deck and below, in tedious times the auto pilot can go on, you can be pretty sure the head is not overused, and if you plan ahead a bit you will have your own sheets on your own bunk. You will have locker space to actually stow your gear and not have dig for your sea bag, hoping it’s not on the bottom of the pile and wondering how wet it is. Pre-prepped meals from your favorite Restaurant or cook become easy even in the most limited galley. In double handed, you get all the issues of racing with the comforts of cruising.
All in all, the crews in double handed class are having the most civilized race experience of any of the boats in the fleet.
S/V Swan 51 Tonic
D/H Class 1st Place - 2007