New York Yacht Club’s historic Harbour Court provided a picturesque backdrop for the 2015 Annapolis-to-Newport Race Prize-Giving Ceremony. Participating sailors from 71 boats in 10 classes gathered at the Renaissance Norman-style mansion located high on a hill overlooking Newport harbor to cheer place-winners as they received their trophies while several special awards were also bestowed by organizers from Annapolis Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club.
The C. Gaither Scott Trophy has become one of the most prestigious prizes for the Annapolis-to-Newport Race ever since its creation in 2000. This year’s recipient was Alaris, a Block Island 40 owned by Mike Cranfield and skippered by Nick Iliff. Named in honor of the longtime Annapolis Yacht Club race chairman, the C. Gaither Scott Trophy recognizes the spirit of Corinthian competition and is chosen at the discretion of the race committee.
This particular Block Island 40 was launched way back in 1958 and purchased a year later by Arnold resident Charles Iliff, who renamed it Alaris and finished fourth in Class B for the 1959 Annapolis-to-Newport Race.
Nick Iliff was convinced by friends and family to enter the sturdy old offshore boat in the 2015 Annapolis-to-Newport Race and after spending significant time on preparation he skippered Alaris to victory in the Classic/Corinthian class.
“To be awarded the Gaither Scott Trophy is a tremendous honor. We knew Gaither and raced against Gaither and know what a great man he was and the contributions he made to sailboat racing on the Chesapeake Bay and beyond,” Iliff said. “I think Gaither would be happy that we won the award that bears his name.”
Midshipmen from the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team carried away quite a bit of hardware as Swift was a big winner. The McCurdy & Rhodes-designed Navy 44-foot sloop placed first overall in the PHRF Fleet after capturing class honors with a corrected time of 3 days, 10 hours, 23 minutes and 35 seconds.
Swift also secured the SURFLANT Trophy as the service academy yacht with the best corrected speed. Lieutenant Commander Joseph McGettigan presented the trophy on behalf of Commander Surface Forces Atlantic. Skipper Kyle Briggs then collected the Gerber Cup that goes to the Naval Academy entry with the top corrected time. Ethan Doherty was presented with the Cary Arthur Memorial Trophy as navigator of the best Navy boat.
Finally, Swift was part of the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron team that received the Annapolis Trophy. Defiance and Integrity, two of Navy’s newer Pedrick-designed 44-footers completed the winning yacht club team.
Looking sharp in their dress whites, the midshipmen from the Navy Varsity Offshore Sailing team posed for pictures with all their hardware. Swift alone walked away with eight trophies.
“This is the culmination of everything we have been working toward since we started sailing Swift,” co-skipper Benjamin Weisberg said. “Our crew was relentless during the race. They were changing sails, trimming for speed and hiking on the rail even though everybody was dead tired.”
Skipper Brian Mulhall and his crew aboard Testing Life also had their hands full of glass bowls and silver cups after the awards ceremony. Testing Life, a Tartan 46, took first place in Performance Cruising 2 and also finished third overall among all PHRF entries with a corrected time of 3 days, 10 hours, 44 minutes and 47 seconds.
Organizers with host Annapolis Yacht Club put considerable effort into encouraging racer-cruisers to enter the classic distance race and the performance of Testing Life proved those types of boats are ideally suited for Annapolis-to-Newport. Rob Floyd served as navigator aboard Testing Life and his job was made more difficult when the boat’s satellite phone went down at 10 p.m. on Thursday.
“We had no communication for three full days, which meant we had to sail the boat the old-fashioned way,” Floyd said. “We went east as planned to pick up the wind shift, but we didn’t want to stray too far from the rhumb line without any weather information.”
Testing Life received a total of eight awards, none more important to the skipper than the Youth Challenge Trophy. That was a new competition introduce for this year’s Annapolis-to-Newport Race that encouraged boat owners to race with three or more crew members under the age of 25.
“That was our most important trophy. I told the crew before the race that if we won anything, it would be the Youth Challenge Trophy,” said Mulhall, a resident of Ocean City, N.J. “We run a program with 10 commandments, and right at the top is that we are always looking to introduce young people to the sport of sailboat racing.”
Cameron Mulhall, 19, served as headsail trimmer for his father while St. Mary’s College of Maryland students Jake Wolf, 22, and Will Faison, 23, joined the team as trimmers. Mulhall picked Wolf and Faison right off the Annapolis-to-Newport crew listing board.
“The young guys did a phenomenal job. They were responsible for getting us out of the Chesapeake Bay. We told them there would be no watch schedule until we got into the ocean,” Mulhall said. “We had the chute up the whole way down the bay and those guys were constantly trimming it.”
One of the most renowned boats entered in the 35th biennial edition of the Annapolis-to-Newport Race was Carina, a McCurdy & Rhodes 48-footer with an impressive pedigree. Carina has captured the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy as overall winner of the Newport-to-Bermuda Race four times, twice under current owner Rives Potts.
Carina can now add Annapolis-to-Newport to its lengthy list of accomplishments as Potts and team sailed the sloop that was built in 1969 to overall victory in IRC fleet with a corrected time of 3 days, nine hours, 37 minutes and three seconds. Storm Trysail Club commodore Lee Reichart served as navigator aboard Carina, which beat runner-up Music (Swan 53, James Blakemore) by 2 hours and 26 minutes.
“We are absolutely thrilled. This is a classic race that, in my opinion, has never gotten it’s just due,” said Potts, current commodore of the New York Yacht Club. “Annapolis-Newport is very challenging because it has so many different elements. We’ve done some great things with this boat, but this ranks right at the top.”
Potts, president and general manager of Brewer Yacht Yards, said Carina had a “smooth trip” during the 475-nautical mile course. Reichart plotted pretty much a rhumb line course in order to sail the shortest distance and Carina reveled in heavy air running conditions for a significant portion of the ocean passage.
Carina crossed the finish line off Castle Hill Lighthouse on Monday evening with the main and spinnaker in wing-a-wing setup with Potts expertly steering the boat as it surfed down five-foot waves at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay.
“It was real nice to have about 10 hours of strong following wind at the end of the race. After all that time at sea, you are anxious to finish and coming home on a dead run is really fun,” said Potts, who was involved with five America’s Cup campaigns on behalf of skipper Dennis Conner.
Another new competition introduced for the 2015 Annapolis-to-Newport Race was the Manufacturer’s Trophy. The organizing committee challenged owners of boats manufactured by the same company to band together and the J Boats team came out on top.
Leading the way for the five-entry team were a trio of J/120s that are all based in Annapolis. Stephen McManus skippered Saykadoo to first place in PHRF 1 while fellow Annapolis Yacht Club member James Praley and Seven Sailing Association member Greg Leonard placed second and third in the same class aboard Shinnecock and Heron, respectively. Rounding out the team was the J/122 Orion (Paul Milo, Leesburg, VA) and the J/44 Kenai (Chris Lewis, Houston, Texas), which placed third and fifth in IRC 2.
Newport was victorious in the Mayoral Challenge as the Farr 60 Prospector beat the TP52 Corsair boat-for-boat. Annapolis mayor Mike Pantelides must ship a bushel of crabs to his Newport counterpart Jeanne-Marie Napolitano as payment for the friendly wager. Prospector, sailed by Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners, finished an hour and 25 minutes ahead of Corsair, a Naval Academy entry skippered by Charlie Morris.
“Prospector is an outstanding boat that was very well sailed and we made a couple mistakes that proved costly,” said Jahn Tihansky, head coach of the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team.
The following boats were presented trophies for exiting the Chesapeake Bay first in class: Alaris (Classic/Corinthian); Pursuit (Norman Dawley, Offshore Rating Rule); Testing Life (Performance Cruising 2); Sea Dacha (Eric Kessler, Performance Cruising 1); Dawn Treader (Lawrence Cohen, Double-handed); Oak Cliff Racing-Bo Dream (Chris Kennedy, Class 40); NANUQ (Glenn Doncaster, PHRF 2); Saykadoo (J/120); Chessie Racing (George Collins, PHRF 1); Migration (Adrian Ionescu, IRC 2) and Donnybrook (Jim Muldoon, IRC 1).