West River Sailing Club skipper Paul Mikucki wins F18 catamaran in Annapolis Yacht Club’s Two Bridges fiasco – Baltimore Sun
Paul Mikucki has wanted to take part in the Two Bridges Fiasco ever since he heard about the wild and wacky event hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club.
The West River Sailing Club member was finally able to make it happen this year and was stunned to win the overall standings. Mikucki steered his Nacra F18 Infusion across the finish line first in the third annual pursuit race held in the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River on July 31.
“I knew we passed a lot of boats because the F18 is so fast, but I didn’t expect to finish first,” Mikucki said. “We were very happy and excited to come out on top.”
Annapolis Yacht Club created the Two Bridges Fiasco in August 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. It took place on the weekend vacated when the Governor’s Cup at St. Mary’s College of Maryland was vacated.
It is so named because boats must round the marks just before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Naval Academy Bridge over the River Severn. What makes the Two Bridges Fiasco unique is that competitors can run the course in either direction.
This year, the bulk of the 54-boat fleet chose to sail to the Bay Bridge first. A small handful of boats crossed the finish line in the opposite direction and headed for the Naval Academy Bridge.
All participating ships started the race based on a handicap, from slowest to fastest. Mikucki’s catamaran was the penultimate vessel to cross, followed only by a hydrofoil windsurfer. Slippery When Wet started 1 hour and 9 minutes after the first boat left.
After observing the trend, Mikucki and her crew Beatrice Waterman also headed for the Bay Bridge at a reach speed in south-southeast winds ranging from 6 to 8 knots. There was a slight hiccup at the turn mark set by the deck as Mikucki turned too close and ended up hitting the inflatable buoy.
The centerboard and rudder both caught and it took some time to free the F18. “Luckily the whole incident, including rounding the mark, only cost us maybe 40 seconds,” said Mikucki, who was lucky to have caught a window that no other boat was rounding. .
It was a beat towards the Y marker off Greenbury Point with the wind steadily increasing. Mikucki and Waterman enjoyed a thrilling leeward spinnaker race to the Naval Academy Bridge in a breeze of up to 12-14 knots. By then almost the entire fleet was in the River Severn and Mikucki was feeling a little nervous dodging the high-speed boats.
“Things got very crowded quickly and I felt like we were hanging on,” he said. “I was running out of room to ride the gusts, and the traveler was almost completely out.”
Mikucki was forced to join Waterman on the wire to prevent the F18 from capsizing and relished the moment to blow downwind, piloting a hull in twin-trapeze mode.
“It’s one of those moments that brings you back, that will stay in the memory bank forever,” said Mikucki, a Baltimore resident who works as a mechanical engineer in Hagerstown.
Waterman said that from the start the fleet of Viper 640 sports boats were the main competition, and Slippery When Wet started to bring them back on the final leg to the finish line in the middle of the River Severn. .
Slippery When Wet passed Viper 640 competitors Evil Hiss and Robot Flamingo as they approached the finish line, crossing with a corrected time of 3:57.11. It was just 21 seconds ahead of Evil Hiss, skippered by SpinSheet Magazine editor Mary Ewenson.
“We could tell the Vipers were really under control since the wind was strong and they were half the weight of the crew,” Mikucki said. “Most of these sailors can circle around me, so it was worthy of a smile when we reached the finish line long before the second place boat – double trapped and stealing the hull in the manner of a cat.”
Mikucki bought his Nacra F18 from West River Sailing Club member Sam Carter, who teamed up with Jahn Tihansky to take the overall victory in the inaugural Two Bridges Fiasco aboard an F18 Scorpion.
All three Viper 640 entries sailed with a crew of two instead of three, with Ewenson admitting that made a difference. She helmed while Rob Gorman busied himself trimming the headsails, hoisting and lowering the spinnaker while calling for tactics.
“When it got super swollen and unstable on the last upwind leg, Rob also trimmed the mainsail so I could just focus on driving,” Ewenson said.
Ewenson believes Evil Hiss passed Slippery When Wet in opposite directions on the River Severn, but said she was “too busy trying to keep the keel under the boat” to spot the catamaran. “We first saw them when they passed us a few minutes before the end,” said Ewenson, who passed fellow Viper 640 skipper Jimmy Praley by seven seconds aboard Robot Flamingo.
Jeff Todd led his J/22 Hot Toddy to fourth place while National Sailing Hall of Famer Gary Jobson finished fifth with his Hood 32 Whirlwind.
1. Slippery When Wet, Nacra F18 Infusion, Paul Mikucki, West River Sailing Club, 3:57:11; 2. Evil Hiss, Viper 640, Mary Ewenson, Annapolis Yacht Club/Eastport Yacht Club, 3:57:32; 3. Robot Flamingo, Viper 640, Jimmy Praley, Severn Sailing Association/AYC, 3:57:39; 4. Hot Toddy, J/22, Jeff Todd, AYC, 3:58:38; 5. Whirlwind, Hood 32, Gary Jobson, AYC, 3:58:49; 6. His universe, J/22, Guillaume Seynhaeve, AYC, 3:59:01; 7. Bangor Packet, J/24, Tony Parker, AYC, 3:59:19; 8. Deep State, Viper 640, Walt Pletcher, AYC, 3:59:26; 9. Rush hour 2, D/24, Mike Coe, ASS, 3:59:30; 10. Seamonster, Daysailer, Erika Seamon, SSA, 3:59:35