Annapolis to Newport: 2019 Kickoff!

Team Prospector kicks off its 2019 campaign this Saturday June 8th in the 2019 Annapolis Newport Race.

Prospector is all buffed up after her long sojourn in Australia and our successful Sydney to Hobart race.  Tery, Quinn, Lu and Jules have worked hard on all components and systems and she has never looked better.

The team has been gathering in Annapolis and practicing for the last couple of days.  It has been almost six months since we last sailed Prospector and we are shaking off the rust, making sure everything works and testing our improvements to the boat.

The Annapolis to Newport race is one of the oldest US East Coast blue water races.  It links two historic seaports that have roots back to the colonial era, and offers the challenge of racing in both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The 475 mile course heads south for 120 miles from Annapolis to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, then east to the Chesapeake Light and then north east to the finish off Castle Hill in Newport.  Navigationally we break the race down in to 3 segments, the first leg down the Chesapeake to Chesapeake Light, the second from there to Block Island and the third from Block Island to the finish.  We effectively treat them as 3 different races.

The first leg can be very tricky with the wind impacted by geographic features and the potential for strong adverse current. Our 15.5 foot draft will pose particular challenges in the very shallow Chesapeake and limit some of our options on this leg. Our start is 11 am on Saturday June 8.  The current forecast is for a 10-15 knot easterly wind at the start.  That means we can sail straight down the bay in deep water which will eliminate the tactical disadvantage of our deep draft in the shallow Bay.  The trip down the Bay should be quick with routing showing us exiting the bay early Saturday night.

The leg from Chesapeake Bay to the Block Island will is highly dependent on how long it takes us to get out of the Bay and the wind conditions and sea state we have when we get there. But, once into the deep water, our options free up and we can focus on going fast, hopefully straight down the rhumb line. Our exit from the bay could be a bit more challenging with the wind shifting to the north east and strengthening to 25-30 knots.  This means we will be sailing upwind in a strong breeze with 2 meter waves. Not a pleasant prospect but excellent training for the Transatlantic race coming up later this month.

Eventually, as we tack up the course to Newport the wind will shift right to the east and we will free up to a reach, though the seas will remain rough.  These conditions will last till we approach the south shore of Long Island, when, surprise, surprise the winds will lighten and veer to the south.

The final leg, Block to Newport, is dominated by the time of day we arrive, given the potential for the wind to shut off at night and in the early morning, as well as land effects and strong current.  These challenges are very familiar to us as we near our home waters.

Interestingly, the course record was held by the Prospector Mark 1 until Warrior, a Volvo 70 skippered by Stephen Murray Jr. set the bar at 40 hours, 14 minutes and 36 seconds.

There are 52 boats entered in the race in 10 classes under 3 rating rules, ORC, PHRF and ORR.  We are in class ORC 1A with 7 competitors. Prospector is the biggest boat in a class comprised of principally 40 footers.  Assuming we can avoid breaking down we should be first to finish. Tactically, we will be focusing more on the clock than on boat on boat tactics.  

Come join us on our voyage.  You can track us live on YB Tracking at the following link: