44th Governor’s Cup Yacht Race is on tap
Sailors hoping to come away with a title in latest running
Beginning today from three different launching ports, more than 100 sailors from across the Mid-Atlantic region will make their final preparations for the 44th running of the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race along the Chesapeake Bay with their eventual final destination being St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City.
Nearly a dozen of the sailors are local. Robert Ballard of Leonardtown, along with his two brothers, Brian and Chris Ballard, son Chad Ballard and brother-in-law, Tom Davenport, will climb aboard the “Look Close” on Friday morning from the Potomac River start in quest of reaching St. Mary’s College well ahead of their competition.
“We’ve been competing in the Governor’s Cup since 2004 and it really is a family affair,” Robert Ballard said. “On board will be my two brothers, my brother-in-law and my son. We’ve upgraded to a newer, faster sailboat this year, so we’re hoping to do well. We have friends and relatives that fly in from Kentucky, California and Tennessee to watch the race every year. It’s a lot of fun.”
Ballard, who spent 28 years in the Marines, has been honing his skills in the air and on the water for the past 25 years. He is still employed fulltime as an airline pilot for American Airlines, but he has also started his own charter boat company, Compass Point Charters, which takes passengers on brief tours once each week. For Ballard, the similarities of flying a large 737 and navigating a sailboat down the Chesapeake clearly outweigh their differences.
“Sailing and flying are really the same thing,” Ballard said. “There are a lot of the same concepts involved regarding lifts, drags, thrusts and weight. Flying a plane and steering a sailboat or motorboat are really the same thing. Sailing is something that I did not take up until I was in my 40s, but it’s a lot of fun and I would recommend that anyone interested would certainly take up sailing starting at a younger age.”
Scott “Gus” Ward will navigate “Crocodile” into the Governor’s Cup this weekend looking for his second straight victory in the Line Honors division of the event.
Ward, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines where he flew Harrier, has been competing in racing events on the sea for over 40 years and was a Hobie 18 National Champion and also took first in the USYRU Champion of Champions.
“Most of the race we’re going to be encountering a wind right on the nose,” said Ward, who will have eight crew members aboard “Crocodile” with him, including navigator Shane Morat. “But my boat is designed to slice right through the wind, so we’re hoping to get an early jump on the competition and get to the mouth of the Potomac River well before ever yone else.”
Ward has competed in the Governor’s Cup since 2004, but he expressed a preference for some of the longer events, including those that span from Newport to Bermuda, Annapolis-Newport and Bermuda Open races. In 2016, Ward and his team won two different major distance races along the Chesapeake Bay and the East Coast.
“For us the Governor’s Cup is like a sprint race,” Ward said. “Our main events are the longer distance races. The trip to Bermuda is 670 miles and when you cross the Gulf stream you never know what you’re going to encounter. But all of us on board the ‘Crocodile’ are either Navy or Marines. Navigating the sailboat is a lot like flying a plane.”
James Whited of St. Leonard will compete in the Governor’s Cup for the 25th time this weekend. A retired computer analyst who moved to the Southern Maryland area in 2001, Whited will have six fellow crew members aboard his sailboat “Bad Cat”, several of whom are St. Mary’s College alumni.
“I probably compete in 20 to 25 races each year, but this one is always among the more challenging and more difficult,” Whited said. “We sail right into the wind for most of it leaving Annapolis and we really don’t get a break until we make the final turn and head toward the college. But my crew is from the school and they enjoy being part of the race each year.”
Whited, who finished fourth in one earlier edition of the Governor’s Cup, admits his favorite race is one contested bi-annually that begins in Annapolis and ends in Bermuda. That event is held on even-number years. He also competes in races held occasionally during the week and others on weekends, but the Governor’s Cup will mark the third voyage down the Chesapeake for “Bad Cat”.
James “Shawn” Moore, a Mechanicsville native who graduated from St. Mary’s Ryken High School in 1973, before it was affiliated with St. Mary’s, is competing in his 10th Governor’s Cup and is dedicating this year’s race to his father, Donald T. Moore, who passed away a year ago.
Moore, who retired from 32 years in law enforcement and now operates Moore’s Driving School, will send out his 1984 boat “Corvina” on Friday evening looking to make an early landing at St. Mary’s City.
James Black (“Seize The Bay”) and Norman Dawley (“Pursuit”) of Lusby, Stanley Shortz (“Singularity”) of Dunkirk, William Ward (“Sundog”) of St. Mary’s City, Neal McKinney (“Tennounce”) of Leonardtown, Thomas Cordell (“Moovin”) of White Plains and Mike Mullarky (“Eighth Deadly Sin”) of Pasadena represent the other local contingent.
Once the sailing ends at St. Mary’s College, the other festivities begin. The annual Trinity Church breakfast will take place from 5:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, then the Waterfront Crab Feast & Barbecue will take place from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring steamed crabs and that will be followed by the coveted Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony from 5 to 6 p.m.
But the fun doesn’t necessarily stop there. Onlookers can either take a shuttle back to the City Dock in Annapolis or stay for the live music on the waterfront from 7 to 10 p.m. and those who stay overnight, primarily on their sailboats, can rise early and participate in another Trinity Church breakfast from 6 to 10 a.m. Sunday with checkout for the entire event at 11 a.m.
Onlookers will see numerous sailboats traveling down the Potomac River and approaching St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City on early Saturday morning as they compete in the 2017 edition of the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race from three different starting points along the Chesapeake Bay.