More than just an­other race

Gover­nor’s Cup win­ners and run­ners-up hoist sails high

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY TED BLACK

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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