For Bob Soli, Three boats sailed the 100 KM Potomac Century Race this weekend, a 62 nautical mile dash downthe Potomac to Maryland Pt and back. Sailed in pursuit format, all PHRF corrections are added at the start, with staggered start times for the progressively faster boats. In theory, all boats should cross the finish at the same time. This race is nearly as long as the Maryland Governors Cup, (68 NM), and certainly much harder to complete than the classic Bay race. DARK STAR was sailed by Doug Savage, Allen Kruppa, Dave Metsdorf (CHIMERA) and Dan Gundred. We ran 2 hour watches and tried to relieve the helm every hour, which I am certain was key to our success.
RUNNETH OVER was the rabbit, and started racing at 5:30pm, followed by SHADOWFAX at 7:09pm, and DARK STAR at 7:50pm. The wind was SE at 7-10 at the start. Here is a synopsis of the race from DARK STAR.
Started the race, reached towards Ft. Washington, no other competitors in sight. 8 miles into the race we were off Mt. Vernon, ghosting along under the chute, watching the Wine Tasting on Washington’s front lawn. By 10pm, we were becalmed off Ft. Belvior, struggling in the tide to keep from going backwards. We thought we saw SHADOWFAX off Indian Head about 4 miles away, but couldn’t be certain. By Midnight, the wind filled in as we rounded Hallowing Pt, and we reached at 7 kts to Indian Head, and then slowed to 2 kts until Mattawoman Creek. We may have seen SHADOWFAX by the powerlines at this point.
From Quantico until Aquia Creek, (mile 27 of 62), we picked up speed and close reached at 5-7 kts down the center of the river until sunrise. I was happy to come back on deck in the predawn and find RUNNETH OVER passing us northbound, abeam of Aquia Creek. SHADOWFAX was in plain sight about 2 miles to windward of us, still headed for the turning mark. Arriving at the turning mark, (mile 31 of 62), RUNNETH OVER was again out of sight around the bend, but SHADOWFAX was within a mile, and a spinnaker battle ensued for the next 2 hours. After amping up the crew on coffee, Little Debbie Oatmeal sandwiches and Swedish Fish, the crew focused in and DARK STAR passed SHADOWFAX off Mallows Bay, (37 miles into the race), with RUNNETH OVER being hull down to the North in Occoquan Bay.
As DARK STAR pushed North, the wind began to drop and it started to rain. We had serious concerns about closing the distance with RUNNETH OVER in the remaining miles, particularly with a flood tide carrying both of us forward towards the finish. RUNNETH OVER is very fast in light air and Bill knows the river. By 11am, RUNNETH OVER disappeared around Hallowing Pt in light air, and we renewed our effort to close the gap in the remaining 12 miles of the course. The wind was now light and variable with a strong flood tide.
DARK STAR caught up with RUNNETH OVER under the evil bluff at Ft. Belvior, with about 8 miles of the course left to go from the 62 miles required. It was the same evil bluff that we had parked under for two hours the previous evening! As we crossed close aboard, we saluted Bill and RUNNETH OVER for their impressive effort and continued on to finish the race, about 20 hours after we started. We salute everyone who sailed and look forward to the race next year.