Bruce Irvin takes great pride in the condition of his J/30, Shamrock, and rightfully so. The Davidsonville resident has spent six years painstakingly rebuilding and restoring the 39-year-old keelboat to the point it almost looks brand new.
“We’ve spent an awful lot of time working on the boat. It’s been a labor of love and we’ve gotten to the point it is really in perfect shape,” Irvin said.
Irvin’s efforts are paying off on the racecourse as Shamrock has become one of the fastest boats in the local J/30 one-design fleet.
Shamrock scored a major victory this past weekend by topping J/30 class during the Annapolis stop of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series. Irvin steered the boat to victory in three races and second place in two others to total 10 points, one better than runner-up Bebop.
Irvin repeated as winner of the regatta, which served as the East Coast championship for the J/30 class. Charlie Carpenter trimmed the main and Rachel Weitman trimmed the headsails aboard Shamrock. Shane Kilberg (all-around), Amy Kuhl (pit), Nathan Thompson (bow) and Efe Brock (trimmer) completed the crew.
“We focused on powering the boat up, finding clear air, getting in phase and just keeping it moving,” Irvin said. “We know we have good speed so we try to get out front and just let the boat go.”
There was an added bonus for Irvin and his young crew as Shamrock was selected by random drawing among the various class winners as overall champion of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series stop in Annapolis. That earns them a berth in the Sailing World Caribbean Championship, which will be held this fall.
A total of 144 boats in 12 one-design classes competed in the regatta, which Sailing World has held in Annapolis for 33 years. Another 10 boats competed in two handicap classes — ORC and PHRF Spinnaker.
Another vintage design that contested an important championship as part of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series was Alberg 30. Skipper T.C. Williams posted three bullets in leading Argo to a narrow one-point victory over Raymond Bay and the Firestorm team.
Only two points separated the top four boats in the class, which has been a staple on the Chesapeake Bay since the late 1960s. That close competition made Williams a proud winner of the prestigious Maple Leaf Trophy, which has been awarded within the Alberg 30 class since 1965.
This was the sixth Maple Leaf Trophy title for Williams, an Arnold resident whose boat was built in 1967.
“This is the biggest multi-day regatta the class does each year, so it seemed appropriate to hand out the trophy at this regatta,” said Williams, who last won the Maple Leaf Trophy in 2017.
Williams won the first race on Sunday and credited his wife Elizabeth for her prowess trimming the jib. “She’s a goddess in light air,” said Williams, whose 18-year-old son Austin handled foredeck duties for the first time. “The key to winning this regatta was keeping the boat moving in light air because the current was a constant factor. We always went left at the start, always went left downwind.”
Ray Wulff got into the highly competitive J/105 class after buying a boat in January 2022, and has quickly ascended to the top of the local fleet. The Annapolis Yacht Club member captured the Chesapeake Bay Championship last fall and has now added the Sailing World Regatta Series to the resume.
Sam Vineyard trimmed the headsails and Mike Komar trimmed the main for Wulff, who steered Patriot to victory in four of eight races and totaled 19 points, nine fewer than Good Trade, owned by Annapolis resident Peter Bowe.
“We bought the boat with the 2023 North Americans as the goal. This is just part of the progression leading up to that regatta in October,” Wulff said.
Wulff previously owned a J/70 and also crews regularly for Rod Jabin aboard Ramrod and for other skippers. He had plenty of experience in the J/105 class before becoming an owner.
“Having sailed in the 105 for many years, it has been really fun to run my own program. Trying new things and trying a different setup than people have done before has interesting,” he said. “Taking everything I learned from racing J/70s and J/80s and applying it to this boat has helped immensely.”
J/105 was the second-largest class in the regatta with 23 boats and Wulff felt it was critical to get and maintain clear air.
“We stayed away from traffic as much as we could. With 23 boats, it’s very easy to get stuck in the mix,” he said. “If you’re around other boats you’re going to slow and you don’t have options. We just wanted to be able to sail the course and do our own thing and not be dictated to by other boats.”
Jimmy Praley is a relative newcomer to the Viper 640 class, which has a very robust fleet on the Chesapeake Bay. He bought the boat in October 2022 and used the Viper 640 Winter Series as training ground.
The Annapolis resident, who sailed competitively at Key School and Tufts, finished fourth at the 2023 Viper World Championships hosted by Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. However, the Sailing World Regatta Series stop in Annapolis will always be memorable as it represents the first class victory for the Robot Flamingo team.
“We did fairly well at the worlds and had some success at the winter series as well, but this is our first victory and we were really stoked about it,” Praley said.
North Sails professionals Austin Powers and Max Vinocur crewed for Praley, who got the gun in four of seven races in posting a low score of 20 to edge Martin Casey (Life of Riley) by two points.
“We got really good at boat-handling during the winter series and that is now a strength. We also do a very good job of communicating on the boat. Austin and Max do everything and I literally just drive and look at the telltales,” Praley said. “It was nearly impossible to be consistent this weekend, but we did our best. Fleet management was a big thing and we were always optimizing our ability to get to the favored side of the course.”
J/70 was the largest class of the regatta with 25 entries and Newport, Rhode Island skipper Doug Newhouse steered Yonder to victory by tiebreaker over Annapolis resident Cate Muller-Terhune. Veteran professional Jeremy Wilmott called tactics for Newhouse, who won on countback based off a fifth place result in the final race.
Muller-Terhune and her Casting Couch crew matched Yonder by winning one race, placing second in two others and also notching a third. Their next best result was a sixth.
Annapolis skipper Mike Beasley enjoyed tremendous success in handicap racing aboard a GP 26 named Rattle-N-Rum. However, the local industry professional has switched gears and got into one-design racing in the J/80 class.
Beasley made his debut at the J/80 World Championships that were held off Annapolis and placed sixth aboard More Cowbell, a boat borrowed from Penn Alexander. Beasley borrowed the same boat for the Sailing World Regatta Series, but brought his own sails aboard and named the entry Black Sheep.
Sailing legend Dee Smith served as tactician as Black Sheep reeled off six straight bullets after opening the series with a fourth and finished with a low score of 10. Joe Gibson trimmed the headsails and 16-year-old Peter Judge worked the bow for Beasley.
“We’ve learned a lot about rig tune and how to use the systems as best we can. We put a lot of time into boat setup and working to improve upwind speed,” said Beasley, who felt blessed to have an America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran aboard. “Dee makes some calls that you would normally question, but I have 100% faith in his decisions. I was able to just focus on driving the boat fast.”
Annapolis resident Brad Julian skippered Yard Sail to the top of the podium in J/22 class, which had 16 boats. Matt Schubert and his wife Lori, who sailed together at the Merchant Marine Academy, crewed for Julian as the team won four of eight races.
Yard Sail started the third and last day of the regatta five points behind Aden King (Rythmic Pumping) but used back-to-back bullets to finish in first place by three points.
“Just sticking to our game plan and putting ourselves in a place where we could control our own destiny was the key to winning [Sunday],” Julian said.
This year’s Sailing World Regatta Series added two new classes in the Melges 15 and Wayfarer — double-handed dinghies that originated a half century apart. Helmsman Bryan Stout and crew Lizzy Chiochetti came out on top in Melges 15, which is the fastest growing dinghy class in the United States. They won two of five races aboard Force Sensitive to finish two points ahead of Britton and Heather Steele on BrewJax.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Wayfarer, which was originally designed in 1957 and is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence. Deale residents John and Mary Driver sailed Sirocco to an impressive score line of 1-1-1-2-2-3 to win by six points.
The Drivers used to race in the J/105 class around Annapolis before spending a decade living aboard their J/130 in Turkey.
Other local winners were Pete Kassal (Spaceman Spiff, J/24 class), Matt Lalumiere (Cash Money, Etchells) and Benedict Capuco (Zuul, ORC).
For complete results, visit yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eid=15506