As a veteran of all the new Potomac River Leg – Governor’s Cup races, I think I can safely declare that this is a terrific sail. Crewing on Bob and Johanna Soli’s Blue Boat, both years were delightfully similar. Balmy moderate winds that blew all night from the southeast. And a course short enough for smaller boats to finish before the dreaded daybreak calm.
Last year’s inaugural race was a fetch from the start at Dahlgren to the turning mark at the mouth of the Potomac with just a few tacks – which was ideal for our short handed crew. I recall steering through the night directly toward the newly rising full moon, which tracked perfectly with the changing breeze that lifted us directly to the turning mark off Pt. Lookout.
The 2013 version was a constant reach without a single tack that produced an average boat speed of 5.5kts for the 47mile race. This year was moonless, which was great for stargazing, with clearly visible Milky Way and constellations that we rarely get to see, plus plentiful meteors and luminescent jellyfish.
For the DISC newbies, Blue Boat is the red-hulled Cal 27 on B dock. In the few years that Bob and Johanna have sailed their boat, they earned a reputation as an adventuresome, affable and inventive pair. They initiated the Night Crawlers (now in modified form as the Happy Hour sail) and the Potomac Century race. And they won a surprising number of races for folks with little sailing experience before moving from North Dakota
Don’t let the rough shape of Blue Boat fool you. Under the right conditions she can be very competitive. In this case, the right conditions included participation by my Coupe de Vent shipmates, Tab Sommer and Tom Watson with the result being 2nd place in the Potomac Leg Spinnaker fleet.
I confess to being a big fan of down-river racing. Quantico, Masters of the Potomac, Dahlgren, even our own Mt Vernon Sprints. Get away from the traffic (water and air), channeling and wind shadows north of the Wilson bridge. As the DISC Gov Cup boats will confirm (Rogue, Split Decision and Moovin), it’s very different racing in the bigger waters further south and well worth the task of delivery. S2 Skippers, please note that there is a conveniently located launching ramp at the Dahlgren marina that Rob Gibb used for Rogue.
Have to give props to Rogue for a smoking fast sail. When Rogue finished, the only boat that had arrived before them was a high tech tri named Sundog. Rogue got their gun at 1:24am. Donnybrook rolled in an hour later (that laggard). So the first three boats at the St. Mary’s dock were a carbon 30’ trimaran, an 80-foot canting keel maxi sloop, and little Rogue.
Big-time, big water, long distance racing without leaving the Potomac. And it’s half the distance of Dark Star’s round trip to Annapolis. Bob and Johanna flew in from Alabama for the race and they did most of the delivery by themselves. C’mon DISC sailors – put it on your racing calendar for 2014. You can’t win if you don’t play – and the odds are way better than Lotto.