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Prospector posts elapsed time victory in Annapolis-to-Newport Race

by Annapolis to Newport Race 8 Jun 10:21 PDT June 4-7, 2021
Prospector, a Mills 68 owned and sailed by Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners, blasts downwind past Beavertail Lighthouse on approach to Newport. Prospector posted the fastest elapsed time for the Annapolis-to-Newport Race © Will Keyworth

Prospector was on pace to break the course record for the Annapolis-to-Newport Race during the 2019 edition. The Mills 68 exited the Chesapeake Bay in less than eight hours and found favorable conditions in the Atlantic Ocean.

However, the bid to better the mark set by the Volvo 70 Warrior in 2017 came to an end when Prospector was dismasted while beating into 20-25 knot winds and eight-foot seas about 30 miles offshore.

"We had a great race going two years ago and were disappointed we weren't able to break the record," said Paul McDowell, one of four owners of Prospector. "We felt like we had unfinished business in this race."

Conditions were not conducive to a record-breaking run this year, but Prospector did the next best thing by posting the fastest elapsed time for the 38th biennial Annapolis-to-Newport Race. McDowell was primary helmsman while fellow owner Larry Landry served as navigator as the 68-footer completed the 475-nautical mile course in 2 days, 1 hour, 21 minutes and 42 seconds.

Annapolis Yacht Club member Marty Roesch is another owner of Prospector, which easily captured line honors among the Saturday starters when it finished off Castle Hill Lighthouse at 12:26 p.m. on Monday.

"We executed the plan we had going in and are very grateful to get the result we did," Landry said. "We certainly have the right machine to post the best elapsed time."

McDowell and Roesch served as watch captains aboard Prospector, which made one slight mistake shortly after starting the race. The 68-footer tacked quickly and headed toward the western side of the Chesapeake Bay.

However, Landry quickly realized there was more pressure on the Eastern Shore, and it did not take long for the largest, fastest boat in the fleet to put the other 20 boats competing in the ORC A and B classes in the rearview mirror.

Boat captain Terry Glackin said Prospector reveled in the 12-14 knot upwind conditions in the Chesapeake Bay. However, the breeze lightened considerably as Prospector rounded Chesapeake Light and turned north toward Newport. That was not entirely unwelcome as it was around that point of the race the boat was dismasted in 2019.

"We all said a little prayer when we crossed where we dropped the mast two years ago," Landry said.

Landry made the call to head toward shore in hope of picking up a thermal breeze and that proved a wise decision. Prospector sailed up the Virginia-Maryland coastline about three miles off the beach, about as close as a boat with a 15 half-foot keel could get.

"We spent about five or six hours sailing in less than 10 knots of pressure after rounding the tower but heading for the beach enabled us to keep the boat moving," Landry said.

Landry relied on meteorologist Chris Bedford for his weather information and said the forecast provided matched the conditions the crew encountered. Prospector headed offshore once the wind picked up and reeled off a ton of mileage while reaching in 12-15 knot southerly winds under A2 spinnaker, No. 2 genoa and a staysail.

"We were triple-headed for a long time in order to get a little more horsepower," McDowell said.

Prospector went east of the rhumb line late Sunday night into early Monday morning. The Mark Mills design hit 18 knots of boat speed on approach to Newport.

"It was champagne sailing from start to finish. We could not have asked for more pleasant weather conditions. It was sunny and warm the whole way," said McDowell, noting the crew never had to put on foul weather gear.

Landry and McDowell both praised the crew, particular the foredeck tandem of Bruce Lawrence and Matt Landry who teamed to perform more than 20 sail changes during the race.

Now the four owners that make up Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners must play the waiting game to see if Prospector holds onto first place in ORC 1.

For more information please see the official website, www.annapolisnewportrace.com

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