Casting Couch Is Top Team at Regatta Series in Annapolis

A full weekend's racing finds local Cate Muller-Terhune Casting Couch at the top of the J/70 fleet and the Overall Winner.
Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Annapolis
Cate Muller-Terhune’s Casting Couch wins the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Annapolis on the final day. Walter Cooper

The skipper and owner and lead character on the J/70 Casting Couch, Cate Muller-Terhune, of Annapolis, is plenty familiar with sailing fast under pressure. As a top-level helmswoman in the class, she was confident that her team’s boatspeed would be the tool they’d use to break a tie going into the final race at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis.

Terhune felt they’d been fast upwind all weekend and today was no exception.

“It was hard to go fast upwind,” says Muller-Terhune, whose crew included her husband Alan, Olympian Dave Hughes, and Colin Kirby. “Maybe we were too tight on the rig compared to other boats, but when the boat felt the fastest and highest it was the most difficult to drive. We were constantly adjusting the sails, communicating and making little adjustments, which was definitely key. It was just a really fun group. We had a great practice day on Thursday and let it roll from there.”

The J/70s were racing on the regatta’s busiest racecourse, which included the J/88s, and the regatta’s two biggest classes—the J/80s and J/105. That, combined with an atypical breeze direction and the usual strong current, made Casting Couch’s win all the more impressive. “That sort of takes the middle of the course out of play, but sailing to leeward of the pack because of the current and the wind direction ended up being pretty advantageous for the most part. It was an interesting and complicated weekend for sure,” Muller-Terhune says.

The win is also a nod to the strength of the Annapolis area racing scene, and several fleets that have robust local participation. Among them is the Annapolis, Fleet 5 Harbor 20 fleet, 18 of which made their debut at the regatta. A majority of the 30-boat fleet that sails the local Wednesday night series turned out to race the weekend series. Ed Holt, owner of Trinity, and his grandson, Tyler Russell, won the class with a perfect scoreline on the final day.

Harbor 20 fleet
The Harbor 20 fleet gets underway at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis. Walter Cooper

Fleet 5’s Bell Carty finished third with Puffin but also earned the regatta’s sportsmanship award for her work as fleet captain and her team’s efforts to grow and join the regatta series weekend. “We don’t do a lot of multiple-day events,” Carty says. But with some lobbying, appealing to the all-ages crews and the promise of fun convinced the fleet to give it a try. Carty says she was “overwhelmed” to be recognized for her efforts. “I think sportsmanship is the key to promoting our sport: it’s about having fun with your family and friends,” she said. “So, this is really an honor.”

Cal 25 class
Alisa Finney, owner of Fahrvergnuggen, wins the Cal 25 class. Walter Cooper

If regatta wins are on the registry for two Maryland-based sailors, the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Annapolis delivered early wedding gifts this weekend. Bride-to-be Alisa Finney, owner of Fahrvergnuggen, won the Cal 25 class, and her fiancé Patrick Seidel took top honors with his boat, Laughing Gull, in the Alberg 30 class.

A second in Sunday’s distance race kept Finney at the top of the class after her win on Saturday. On the Alberg, Seidel sails with multiple generations from one family with an age range of 28 to 68. “It’s a good mixture of long-time experience with youth energy, drive and passion so it works out really well,” Seidel says. “Plus, our boats are prepped really well.”

Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Annapolis
Albacores head upwind at Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Annapolis. Walter Cooper

The 19-boat Albacore class sailed 10 races over the weekend with Barney Harris, of Arlington, Virginia, winning the event. No one could accuse him of not knowing the boat well: he has raced Albacores since the 1980s, builds them, owns five and even lent one to a fellow competitor for the event.

“I’m the guy that builds the boats, fixes everybody’s boats and teaches people how to sail,” Harris says. He chose Gale Warning for the weekend racing, calling it the “best boat I have” and leaving at home the wooden version he sails in wooden-boat regattas.

The Albacore class made its debut at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis this weekend as the Virginia-based fleet looks forward to its World Championship in Hampton, Virginia, in October. “We’re a class that has been around for a while, has dedicated sailors, and we thought the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Annapolis was a great venue for us to show off the boat,” says Tyler Phillips, of Washington DC, who is the vice president of the class. “It’s a boat from the 1950s that can sail in all the conditions: from the heavier wind we had on Friday to the light air we had on Sunday.”

Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis
Sarah Alexander’s More Cowbell, rounds the weather mark on the final day at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis. Walter Cooper

The 15-boat J/22 fleet finished 10 races over the three days, and thanks to a strong start, the team on Jeff Todd’s Hot Toddy, of Annapolis, Maryland, could overcome some bottom half finishes in the final few races.

“We didn’t have a very good Sunday but we hung on by a thread and won in a tie breaker,” Todd says. “There was lighter wind today, and it was hard to read. It was very light, and we didn’t know whether to go left or right. People made out on the left, mostly. But it’s a very good fleet, very good competition where anybody could win any race. It’s a very tough fleet.”

Todd’s team will race one weekend per month through the summer and in the Thursday night series before the J/22 World Championships that will be held in Annapolis in October.

In the J/24 class, Hillman Capital Management, skippered by Mark Hillman, of Bethesda, Maryland, hit a patch of no wind that slowed them for about 100 yards and allowed another boat to pass them earlier in the weekend. A second in that race spoiled what would have been a perfect series of first-place finishes. Still, Hillman was pleased. “Today was about staying in pressure, which we did most of the time,” he says.

Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis
Ray Wullf’s Patriot hunts down Bill Zartler’s J/105 Dejavodoo at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis. Walter Cooper

Hillman credited years of sailing together with some of his crew and two days of practice before their Saturday-Sunday racing. “We built enough teamwork over those two days to get around the racecourse,” he says. “We thought this regatta would be the perfect tune up for the Corinthian Nationals in a few weeks.”

The J/80 class was the biggest in the event with 26 boats. Sarah Alexander’s More Cowbell, of Annapolis, pulled out the regatta win with a second-place finish in the one race held on Sunday. The two-day class leader Kopp-Out (aka The Lasso Way) owned by Thomas Kopp, of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., couldn’t match the local knowledge in the light air, and Alexander credits her team with consistency. “We started middle to pin, going for the breeze on the left, and then nothing too crazy on the first upwind. We tried to jibe early on the downwind and just keep going fast,” she says.

In the J/105 class, Ray Wullf’s Patriot, of Annapolis, reclaimed the top of the standings where they were on Friday. After racing that day, the team won the Mount Gay Cocktail Competition with a Patriot Punch recipe, but Wulff refused to blame those festivities for the team’s slide into second on the racecourse on Saturday.

“It’s just as important to win off the water as one the water,” says Wullf, whose team won the regatta in 2023. Sunday’s light air, he said, meant they didn’t change any of the routines. “We just did the same thing we did all three days: consistent sailing,” he says.

Jimmy Praley’s Viper 640 Robot Flamingo finishes the last race of the day to win the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in Annapolis. Walter Cooper

On the Etchells 22 course, Greg Hryniewicz, of Annapolis, Maryland, owner of Caramba, admits to “trying everything we could not to win the event.” In the first race on Friday, they were over early. In the second race, they missed the offset mark after a course change, had to reach up to make it, rounded up and a crew member fell overboard. (They retrieved him safely.) In the third race, a crew member lost his balance and cracked a rib, which turned into a full break during the fourth race that day. Hryniewicz found a substitute crew, someone he had never sailed with, and finished the weekend 1 point ahead of the next boat.