With cold temperatures predicted to stay at least five more weeks here in Maryland, the Annapolis Yacht Club sets sail to carry on the second half of their 2014-2015 Frostbite Series. Frostbite racing, or Frostbiting, is another term for sailing in the winter and as “America’s Sailing Capital”, sailing enthusiasts are not about to let a little cold weather keep them from their boats. Local sailing aficionados at the Annapolis Yacht Club have been producing numerous sailing events to help grow the sport since its’ inception in 1866 as the Severn Boat Club, located in a small-one story frame shack on an oyster pile. In the late 1930’s to early 40’s the Boat Club was changed into what is now known as the Annapolis Yacht Club. In following years, around the early 1960’s, the creation of the Frostbite series was implemented by Club.
Created by Larry Newark and Al Bruce, the Frostbite sailing series gives dedicated and enthusiastic sailors the chance to compete in their sport during the off-season. The harsh and frigid temperatures create a whole new element for sailors. These sailors are pushed to the limit in testing and improving their skills on the water. The tight quarters and short courses keep sailors alert during the race. This particular series is split into two parts; the first half of the series took place November 9th and lasted until December 14th. On New Year’s Day, one race is run for the Frostbite Competitors affectionately known as the “Hangover Bowl”. The current half started on February 1st, and runs every Sunday at approximately one o’clock through March 15th. Both one design and handicap boats compete in Frostbite with the caveat that there’s a minimum of 3 crew on board, crew do not leave the cockpit while racing and spinnakers (downwind sail) are not flown. With everyone in the cockpit while racing close quarters is the name of the game but it’s all part of the fun while sailing in frigid temperatures. Linda Ambrose, Regatta Manager at Annapolis Yacht Club states, “Sailing is as much about camaraderie as competition.”
During this series the Race Committee sets courses either up the Severn River or just outside of Annapolis Harbor. This is perfect for spectators who want to watch the racing, from start to finish. The start of each race takes place on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy at one of two starting locations: one at Hartford Light and the other located at Triton Light. The starting position can fluctuate and is based on which way the wind is blowing before each race. The finish is located in Spa Creek, between a flag on the deck of AYC and a point on the East port side of the creek. Spectators can view the finish from the Spa Creek Bridge. The end of this Frostbite series occurs on March 15. At three o’clock on March 22, there will prizes awarded to those sailors who have participated in the series. The number of rewards depends on the amount of boats entered.
Those spectators who are willing to watch each boat depart, there is plenty of area to walk around and see each sailor prepare to prove his or her skills. For those who would rather watch the boats compete from indoors, Annapolis has top-notch restaurants to get the most exclusive sighting experience. Local restaurants like Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, Chart House, and Carroll’s Creek are great for Sunday Brunch to watch the competition on race days. In past years the Frostbite series has shown numerous talents among sailors in the Maryland area. With the long history of the Annapolis Yacht Club and the numerous sites from local restaurants to the U.S. Naval Academy having the opportunity to be involved with the Frostbite series will be surely entertaining. Be sure to come on out and watch the most dedicated and skillful sailors on Sunday’s at one o’clock taking off at the U.S. Naval Academy.