October 19, 2013 along Portsmouth, Virginia's riverfront.

"One of the Greatest Gathering of Schooners in the World" featuring participating schooners from the 24th Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Schooner Dove II: Racing in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race

After Dove II sailed us to a 3rd place finish in the 2008 Race (with an inexperienced crew and only 2 days of sea trials after her 2-year refit), we had high hopes for the 20th Annual Great Chesapeake  Bay schooner race salted for October of 2009.

Schooner Dove II  racing in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race.
We crossed the start line rolling at 7 knots in 15 knot winds, with a double-reefed mainsail and single-reefed foresail as we anticipated that the forecast of rain, 40 degree temps and 35 knot winds during the night would bear out. The rain and temperature were as predicted; the wind did not exceed 25 knots. (making them the kindest winds over the last several races).

DOVE II  racing during the 20th Annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race
We built an early lead on our B fleet and on many of the boats in the A and AA fleets that had started earlier. But as it was said long ago, “pride goeth before the fall.” We sailed down the Eastern Shore at close to hull speed, so I didn’t call for any reefs to be shaken out, to guard against the high winds that did not happen.

Three boats with the sense to put up more sail sneaked by us in the night to place 1-2-3, and we placed 4th in our fleet, less than 11 minutes out of first place on the 80-mile course!

Captain Mike from the deck of  DOVE II observes the PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II
If we’d shaken out just one reef, would the extra half-knot of speed have made a difference in our finish? We’ll never know. But I have learned that even after several thousand miles sailing Dove II since her refit, I still don’t know how truly fast she is. My crew and I do take some solace from our 8th place finish (corrected time) among all schooners over the “long course” (126 mile).

Yes, we intend to participate again this year! The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race is an awesome event that draws far more schooners than any schooner race anywhere, and sailing in it just one time is enough to understand why it is the biggest schooner race today. If you have the opportunity to take part in this race, on any boat and in any capacity, DO IT!

Captain Mike of the DOVE II

Visit the DOVE II at their website at http://www.schoonerdove2.com/ Stop by and meet the crew during this years Schooner Days in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia, October 15 & 16, 2010. See you there!

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