By Ed Kurowski
One of the classic sailing races in North America is the Annapolis to Bermuda Race. Unfortunately, the 2020 race, originally scheduled to begin June 5, is among the events cancelled due to Covid-19. Hearing this recent news awakened many fond memories of a happier time 30 years ago when I entered my Island Packet 35-16, Spinache, in the 1990 Annapolis to Bermuda Race.
This 750-mile race has several unique components making it unlike any other destination race. Following the 125-mile trek down the Chesapeake Bay with its light and fickle winds, shifting tides, currents and shipping lane traffic, the challenge of negotiating the Gulf Stream awaits. Finally, there are 600-plus miles of open ocean beckoning before landfall and a Dark N Stormy or two in Bermuda.
In 1990, I purchased my new Island Packet 35 and commissioned, outfitted and berthed her in the Gratitude section of Rock Hall, Maryland, where I have lived and worked in yacht sales since 1978. Aside from having a stout, safe, well-prepared and provisioned vessel to successfully participate in an adventure like this, the Captain needs a capable crew.
Among the very capable crew aboard Spinache was Island Packet builder and designer, Bob Johnson, who brought the highest level of expertise and humor to the ship. Also aboard was Bruce Nairn, THE sailmaker from North Sails, along with John Stehman, who was fearless and owner of Island Packet 31-25, Katzenjammer, and Joe Marciano, a Rock Hall neighbor, friend and also a good sailor. And last but not least on board was Laura Kurowski, my 13-year-old daughter. She was just a delight throughout the whole process, from prepping to being my quick-study watch mate. Laura was also the youngest crew member in the race. She sure did make this dad proud — and still does to this day.
With a crew like this, how could we not do well? And with this great crew, good meals, some stimulating conversation and plenty of laughs, we did indeed do well: Spinache finished first in division and second overall in the 1990 Bermuda Ocean Race. Also of note, two Island Packet 38s finished second and third in their division on corrected time: Shorn Lamb captained by Andy Whelan and Shahrazad captained by Jack Wentzel.