More than just another race
Governor’s Cup winners and runners-up hoist sails high
Last weekend when he piloted “Look Close” to a second-place finish in his respective class of the 44th annual Governor’s Cup Yacht Race that began in Annapolis on Friday and ended along the St. Mary’s River adjacent to St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Robert “Buzz” Ballard admitted the family affair was dedicated to a late member of the family.
Ballard, along with his son, Chad Ballard, two brothers Chris Ballard and Brian Ballard and brother-in-law Tom Davenport, had climbed aboard a vessel named in honor of his late father, Donald Ballard. it was not an homage to the boat or any other family member, but a phrase that their father was accustomed to saying frequently when they were hunting for quail.
“When my dad would take my brothers and I hunting for quail, he would always tell us to look close for any of the birds,” Ballard said. “So, when it came time to name my newest boat for him, that’s the first thing that I thought of. We got this boat because it has a narrow nose and it’s perfect for sailing in windy conditions.”
On Friday afternoon and well into the overnight hours of Saturday morning, the Ballards and “Look Close” did not encounter all of the serious obstacles that affected many of the other Governor’s Cup participants. While 113 boats were registered for the event, roughy one-third of them either opted not to start or retired early during the event, including the “Singularity” which needed assistance from the Coast Guard.
“Once we got out there it was beautiful,” Ballard said. “We kept looking for some of the buoys out there. Some of them would blink for three, four seconds and then they would go out for 15 seconds, so that made it tricky. But the wind was right on our nose pretty much the whole time. That’s what we expected and that’s why I have this boat.”
In addition to naming the vessel for his late father and having a crew comprised of immediate family members, Ballard is also proud of the fact that his entire crew served in the military. Ballard spent 28 years in the Marines and his brothers, son and brother-in-law all have military backgrounds.
“Not only is this a genuine family affair, but we all served in the military,” Ballard said. “Most of my experience in the military was flying combat planes. But flying a plane and sailing have a lot in common. It’s been a great tradition so far. We’re all very proud of our military service and we enjoy being out on the water competing in these events.”
Ballard and “Look Close” were among a solid number of local sailors and crews who performed well navigating the 70-miles of choppy waters. Scott “Gus” Ward of Hollywood steered “Crocodile” superbly and took home the Beneteau Cup and later this month he will compete in the United States Offshore Championships. james Whited of St. Leonard and “Bad Cat” and Bob Donaldson of Avenue and “Evergreen” and Barney Feist of Patuxent River and “Arctic Tern” also departed with minor spoils on Saturday afternoon.
“It really came down to how much water you wanted to take on before turning around,” Ward said. “Things were tough with the winds steady at 15-20 knots and the waves up. But this is what makes these overnight races so competitive and so special. You just never know what conditions you’re going to face, so you have to be ready for everything. A lot of the local guys did well because they know what to expect when they travel down the Chesapeake Bay and make that lats turn into the river.”
Chad Ballard, Chris Ballard, William “Buzz” Ballard, Brian Ballard and Tom Davenport proudly display their trophy after steering their sailboat “Look Close” to a second-place finish in their respective class of the 44th annual Governor’s Cup Yacht Race last weekend.
Robert “Buzz” Ballard of Leonardtown and his crew guided “Look Close” to a second-place finish in its respective class of the Maryland Governor’s Cup Yacht Race that began last Friday afternoon and ended early Saturday morning at St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City.