Chesapeake Bay Skipjack
The skipjack, Ida May, won the 59th Annual Deal Island Skipjack Race. This is the second year in a row for the Ida May to be the champion. Congratulations to Capt. Shawn Ridgley and his able first mate, Mike Oh!!! Congratulations as well to owners Elbert and Gordon Gladden.
There was very little wind for the race. The Tangier Sound was glassy and the skipjacks' sails were slack, fluttery. The Ida May's yawl boat was having engine problems, so we decided to let someone tow us out of the harbor. We were dropped off near the starting line. Capt. Ridgley circled around and got us on a tack that enabled the Ida May to cross the starting line just as the gun sounded. The wind was coming from the south-west, blowing feebly towards the shore. We were on a straight-line that would allow us to round the first buoy without having to make a tack. The downside to this strategy was that the other boats were blocking our wind. The upside to this strategy (other than not having to make a tack) was that the current running against us was not as strong where we were, closer to the shore, in shallower water, as it was in the deeper Channel. The Fannie L. Daugherty was the closest boat to us and she was definitely blocking our wind. But because of the current, she could make no headway against us. The Somerset was also in the mix, even more in the Channel than the Fannie. We were the three lead boats. All the rest were bunched up or taking ill-advised tacks that set them back even further. After running neck and neck for a bit, the Ida May was finally able to break free from the Fannie L. Daugherty, and once we had some wind, we put considerable distance between us and the Fannie. The Somerset was on the Fannie's tail, no pun intended. We rounded the first buoy and took a nice tack out into the deeper waters of the Tangier Sound. We were in the shade and getting some wind!!! It felt great! The Fannie followed us but she couldn't keep up. We made a tack towards our next marker and the Fannie was unable to match our bee line to the next buoy. She had to fall off, while we surged ahead. The other boats were still flailing. Somehow the Somerset caught the Fannie for second place, but the Ida May won by at least 15-20 minutes. The committee called the race short because of the lack of wind. I believe the Ida May could've finished the course (maybe), but no other boat would've been able to. Capt. Ridgley and First Mate Oh are amazing!!! And the boat builders of Elbert Gladden, Gordon Gladden, David Gladden, Frank Antes, and Tom Evans will go down in history with the likes of Jim Richardson (ha!).