LOOKING BACK ON CHESSS’S 2020
With apologies to Charles Dickens- it was the slowest of seasons and it was the most active of seasons. Coming into 2020, CHESSS Board was very optimistic that 2020 would be a great year for CHESSS. CBYRA voted that CHESSS would be a sanctioned class, and at the CBYRA coordination meeting, clubs came courting CHESSS to include a start in their sponsored races. Membership was up a little and there was cash in the treasury.
Then Covid-19 struck. The lock-down meant that members were late getting their boats commissioned for the season, let alone being able to get out sailing. In the lock down, CHESSS members posted content each week varying from articles on short-handed sailing suggestions and detailed single-handed travelogues, to a SpinSheet podcast on short-handed sailing.
But as soon as it looked like the lockdown was lifted the CHESSS Board swung into action, initiating a short-notice, socially-distanced, well attended Gather and Gab spring membership meeting. The meeting was preceded by a session of practice race starts meant to help members get a better sense of how to start a race short-hand and to give the CHESSS race committee some practice as well.
The CHESSS sponsored annual Poplar Island Fiasco Race came close on the heels of the Gather and Gab. With great winds and a large turn-out race was a great success. Racers had a choice or whether to round the coure clockwise or counter-clockwise. Seemingly, the spinnaker boats chose clockwise and the non-spin boats went the other direction.
Not to rest on its laurels, CHESSS followed the Poplar Island Race with a well attended ‘non-raft-up’ three day Challenge cruise to the Choptank in lovely conditions for the season.
Worldwide there has been a tremendous increase in interest in short-handed racing spurred on in part by the new Olympic offshore-mixed gender event, and the realities of the pandemic. This is reflected in CHESSS’s membership being way up over the prior year.
CHESSS’s mission was furthered as clubs around the Bay included CHESSS starts, or created their own short-handed races, some of which drew world class racers to the region. CHESSS members did the club proud. For example, the top three PHRF fleet corrected times went to CHESSS boats in Race to the Lighthouses (and that included the other roughly 75 fully crewed boats racing under PHRF).
The final CHESSS sponsored race was a throw-back to a “Leman’s start’ race with the boats starting on the anchor and racing around the challenging, but shortened course.
The season wrapped up with an outdoor Annual Fall Membership Meeting and awards ceremony.
As we look to next year, we are hopeful that the worst of the Covid restrictions will be behind us by racing season. The CHESSS Board are beginning to plan next season’s events and will try to put out a season calendar of events. We are shifting to a new website provider with the hope of having more flexibility at a lower cost. The board is looking at minor tweaks to CHESSS’s racing rules, and revisiting the choice of rating rule for the 2022 season (input welcome). We expect to have a full season of Challenges for the non-racing and race-cruising members.
Other than that, the CHESSS Board wishes everyone a wonderful 2021. We look forward to seeing you out there on the water.
CHESSS Executive Board