May 13 brings 7th annual Elf Classic Yacht Race to Chesapeake Bay

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The 1888 racing yacht Elf, shown here, is the flagship for the 7th Annual Elf Classic Yacht Race. Photo credit: Russell Levi

Launching early from Annapolis and ending in St. Michaels, Md., the 7th annual Elf Classic Yacht Race brings the centuries-old tradition of yacht racing back to the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

The Classic Yacht Restoration Guild, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and Eastport Yacht Club are once again sponsoring the annual race, which includes a fleet of antique and classic sailing yachts, both large and small. Race proceeds benefit CYRG and CBMM, where race participants will be greeted along CBMM, where race participants will be greeted along CBMM’s Fogg’s Cove and the winners announced at a trophy reception later in the day.

Organized by CYRG, the race features America’s oldest active racing yacht, the 1888 Elf. Restored to historically accurate condition and re-launched in 2008, Elf is a Lawley-built 30-foot class cutter. Elf pioneered offshore yacht cruising in 1893 by being the first small craft to race round-trip from Marblehead, Mass. to Halifax, N.S.

The May 13 race features a nautical Le Mans start, beginning with a captain’s meeting on land, followed by the sound of a whistle, signifying each yacht captain’s mad dash to a tied-up dinghy, or tender. Next, the captain’s row out to their moored vessels and waiting crews, before tying up their tenders and raising anchor, with up to 30 yachts racing off from Annapolis in a cloud of white sails across the Chesapeake Bay.

“It’s very unusual to see a single classic yacht on any given day, so watching a fleet of them sailing away from the anchorage and into St. Michaels is an incredible experience,” said CYRG President and Elf skipper Rick Carrion.

The event begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Eastport Yacht Club, where spectators can watch the fleet depart Annapolis against the scenic background of the U.S. Naval Academy. The race can be seen as it crosses the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore and into the Eastern Bay, and the Miles River.

The sandbagger Bull charges ahead during the Chesapeake Bay’s 6th Annual Elf Classic Yacht Race.

The race concludes at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, where onlookers will greet the fleet of classic racing yachts as they arrive along CBMM’s Miles River waterfront, anchoring off in Fogg’s Cove.The race ends when all captains have rowed to shore, and signed the race log on land.

In addition to custom-made awards, a special award for the winning boat is also up for grabs. Carrion says Fordham Brewing of Dover, De. is generously donating the winning captain’s weight in beer.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Fordham again for the race,” said Carrion. “They are great supporters of CYRG and CBMM, and they help give our captains one more reason to win.”

To see a documentary and race footage of the Elf Classic, go to bit.ly/ElfClassic. To register a yacht for the race, download a complete registration package at cyrg.org, or contact CYRG’s Rick Carrion at cyrg.elf@gmail.com or at 443-566-2212. The racing fleet is limited, with early registration recommended, giving preference to wooden, classic, and traditional yachts.

CYRG is a non-profit, member organization dedicated to the preservation of maritime heritage through the maintenance and operation of Elf. She was designed by George Lawley & Sons of South Boston, Mass., and built in 1888 for William H. Wilkinson. Over the warmer months, she can be seen dockside at CBMM, and under sail along the Miles River and Chesapeake Bay.

Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Serving more than 78,000 guests each year, CBMM’s campus includes a floating fleet of historic boats and 12 exhibition buildings and historic structures. For more information, visit cbmm.org.

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