Mumm's the word
boat, Canadian Fred Sherratt’s Steadfast, just one point away, stakes were
high as it was anyone’s guess who would return to the dock victorious.
A high-pressure system had moved in overnight and brought with it a sharp northeasterly breeze that made the battle flags on the boats snap to attention as they left the docks at the Annapolis Yacht Club, watched by numerous spectators lined up on the Spa Creek Bridge into Eastport.
Charlie Wurtzebach’s Contender, from Chicago, stayed behind as they had cracked a spreader in a collision the previous day.
For the penultimate race of the regatta, conditions on the Chesapeake Bay were challenging, not only for the sailors, but also for the dozen or more spectator boats that came out on a bright sunny day to watch the thrilling end to the event.
The Race Committee set a four-leg windward-leeward course with 1½-mile legs and the boats had to contend with an alternating mixture of big rollers and short chop in a gusty NNE 18-20 knot breeze.
Most of the fleet used smaller jibs today and heading upwind towards the first mark, the boats really took a pounding. Those that chose the left side of the course made big gains on the rest of the fleet as the pressure coming out of the mouth of the Severn River gave them a nice reward.
Rough water and an outbound tide made things interesting as some boats starting to go around the windward mark were swept into it and had to throw in last minute tacks to avoid hitting it. Coming in on port tack, Tom Ritter’s Tramp (USA) quickly tacked right in front of USA 65 on starboard with David Pyles of Oxford Maryland driving and snuck in to round the mark first, USA 65 then
rounded next a half-boat length behind.
Pegasus (USA) with Philippe Kahn at the helm was third boat around followed by Phil Factor’s Furry Creatures (USA), Unicredito Italiano, campaigned by the Recchi/Ubertalli syndicate from Italy, and Paolo Cristofori’s Printel Wind (ITA) pinching up high to just make the big Champagne Mumm mark.
Turning downwind, keeping the bow out of the water and riding the waves were key to the next leg. The continuing gusts could be seen making their way through the fleet as one boat after another struggled to keep their spinnakers full.
Again, the lead boats chose the western (right) side of the course, heading for the leeward gate with Tramp, USA 65, Furry Creatures, and Pegasus in the lead pack.
Coming back upwind, Tramp and USA 65 performed a beautiful on water ballet as they approached the windward mark for the last time in this race. Tramp did a brilliant job of covering to protect and increase their lead. Pegasus snuck in on port at the mark to round in front of USA 65 and the boats kept these positions until the end with Tramp, Pegasus, USA 65, Furry Creatures, and Unicredito Italiano finishing the tenth race first through fifth respectively.
Printel Wind finished seventh and Alina eighth almost 10 boat lengths behind the leaders.
It appeared that Steadfast could not decide which of the two boats to cover and simply chose the wrong side of the course on the last two legs, finishing 21st in this race.
With no clear winner of the World Championship identified, the pressure was really on for the final race – eleventh of the regatta. The water flattened out as the wind went down to 15 knots. The Race Committee called for a W/L course of five legs, each a 1-½ mile long at a heading of 10 degrees. Prior to the start of the race, the majority of the fleet changed to bigger
Given the stakes, few could afford a penalty at the start, so Furry Creatures was the only boat over the line early but made a quick clean restart to clear themselves. Realising how well the left side had paid in the prior race, the majority of the fleet went to the left.
Halfway up the first leg, the gusty winds temporarily returned and a lot of trimmers had to let their mainsails flog a bit to keep their boats flat. The breeze then again backed down to 12 knots by the time the boats reached the first mark
John Podmajersky’s Illusion (USA), Go Figure (USA) driven by David Koski, and Enigma chartered by Stewart Lewis (AUS) followed Steadfast, first to the mark in that order. Printel Wind and Alina rounded in the middle of the fleet.
All but two boats chose the western side of the course for the second leg going downwind. Remaining in first, Steadfast rounded the western side of the leeward gate first and headed left. Illusion struggled with their spinnaker take down but recovered nicely to round in second followed by Go Figure, Enigma, the Wynsma/Petty team from Holland, Michigan on Asylum and Pegasus all rounded in that order.
Richard Perini’s Foreign Affair (AUS) snuck just inside of Unicredito Italiano who had to duck their stern at the mark.
Slogging their way through the chop to the last windward mark rounding of the regatta, the boats faced 18 knots as they beat their way back upwind. Most of the fleet chose to stay in the middle of the course, with maybe 10 boats banging hard right. For the third time in this race, Steadfast was first around the mark; followed closely behind by Illusion and Go Figure.
Passing three boats on this one leg, Foreign Affair moved into fourth, while Enigma and Asylum came next in that order. With clean spinnaker sets, the
boats headed down to the last leeward gate. Steadfast went through the gate
and headed towards the finish with the championship still up for grabs.
Illusion followed also at the eastern side of the gate with both boats rounding to port and heading up wind. Go Figure chose the western gate with a big gap between the top three boats and the rest of the fleet. Foreign Affair was next, gybed and headed west, followed by Enigma and Asylum.
Pegasus and Unicredito Italiano chose different sides of the gate and rounded even. Who would make it first to the finish was anybody’s guess.
Boats that chose the left side for this last leg got a big lift. While Go Figure and Foreign Affair sandwiched Steadfast, Illusion moved into the lead. It was neck and neck for the top four boats heading to the finish line. Illusion crossed the line first, getting the gun followed by Steadfast, Foreign Affair and Go Figure.
Andrea Cecchetti’s Banca Finnat (ITA) tacked on the line to cross just ahead of Alina, who made awesome gains on this last leg. It was a great finish to the regatta.
Realising that they had finished ahead of Printel Wind and thus had won the
World Championship for a second time without winning a race in this regatta,
the crew aboard Alina let out shouts of glee and heartily congratulated each
other before whipping out their mobile phones and calling friends and loved
ones around the globe with the good news.
Back at the dock, Guiseppe Abba was asked what his plan had been for the day. He replied, “to stay ahead of Printel and close to the Canadians ( Steadfast). It was a long race and that first beat was pretty scary.”
At the Awards Ceremony at the Annapolis Yacht Club, the winners received Tiffany crystal trophies and Champagne Mumm champagne with the crew of Alina spraying themselves and onlookers with their jeroboam of Mumm champagne.
Alina also was awarded the perpetual trophy presented by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club to the winner each year of the Champagne Mumm Mumm 30 World Championship, which was promptly filled with a refreshing beverage and passed around for all to sample. Well done to our Italian friends!
We’d like to say thank you to each and every Mumm 30 team that participated in the Champagne Mumm 2002 Mumm 30 World Championship and to our sponsors Champagne Mumm, North Sails, Lewmar Marine, the Boatyard Bar &
Grill, the City of Annapolis, Fast Track Yacht Management and Oceana Ltd.