(Annapolis, MD)- The forecast for any sailor north of Cape Hatteras along the northeastern seaboard of America was simply this- “fresh to frightening” weather conditions, winds 15-30 knots (thereabouts) and, depending on “fetch”, seas could be huge (e.g. ginormous). Fortunately, the J/109 competitors sailing off Annapolis only had to worry about a 1-2 nm “fetch” from the SSW and waves under 3-5 feet, not bad considering what fishermen were facing offshore– nearly four days of gale force 25-45 knots winds and massive seas.
As expected, the extraordinarily competitive East Coasts during Rolex Block Island Race Week were a precursor for this year’s J/109 NA’s. The host Annapolis YC in Annapolis, MD did a remarkable job to fire-off eight races over the weekend in the challenging conditions.
In the end, it was Ted Herlihy’s GUT FEELING team (pictured above) from New Bedford YC that showed remarkable consistency, garnering a 1-2-2-4-5-2-1-8 for 25 pts to win the regatta by 12 points. Past champion Rick Lyall on STORM from Cedar Point YC was sailing a solid series and were an easy contender for the championship until they had to retire in race 5, their 4-5-3-1-16/DNF-1-5-2 for 37 points was strong enough to finish second. The dark horse amongst this year's event had to be CAMINOS, Don and Cristina Fillipelli’s crew from Devon YC. Somewhat like Lyall’s STORM team, the CAMINOS team were also strong contenders with a solid 3-1-1-3-3-8-3-16/DSQ, but their last race DSQ knocked them off the top of the podium, finishing just one point back from second with 38 pts. Other than a 10th and 9th in races 5 and 7, Bill Sweetser’s Annapolis YC team on RUSH were also in the hunt with a record of 2-4-8-7-10-3-9-1 for 44 pts. Craig Wright’s AFTERTHOUGHT sailed a very steady regatta to accumulate a 6-6-4-6-1-4-6-14 for 47 pts.