Bloody Mary touted as best sailor in the lower Cape Fear
By Cheryl L. Serra
Fog and variable light wind dominated Southport Yacht Club’s (SYC) inaugural long-distance race, The Southport Cup, and challenged the crews of the eight boats who participated and gave Captain Scott Kaseman and his crew on Bloody Mary boasting rights to a race aimed to name the best sailor in the lower Cape Fear. With time corrected for a handicap system used by racers, second place winner Bernadette and captain Jaime Deale only trailed by 12 seconds in the nearly four-and-a-half-hour, 22-mile course. Third place winner was Juno, captained by Chris Webster.
SYC Commodore Sam Johnston said the race is designed to offer an ocean course that evens the playing field for boats of all sizes without the challenges of racing in the Cape Fear River and its currents. The Southport Cup course started south of the Oak Island lighthouse, went 4.3 miles along Oak Island beach, then rounded a mark and went eight miles to the Cape Fear sea buoy before returning by American Fish Company, where the after-race party and award ceremony was held. Brian Kimball, owner of Loco Jo’s, donated the perpetual trophy for The Southport Cup, a beautiful half hull on a plaque that has several gold plates for the winners’ names. The trophy will be prominently displayed at Loco Jo’s. The race will be an annual event and Johnston hopes racers from the Carolinas will put it on their calendar so they, too, might add their name to the trophy.
Johnston, who raced Naos in the event, said the “mixed bag” of weather kept the race interesting. Several racers spoke of the eeriness of the fog rolling in at about an-hour-and-a-half into the race. Many noted that when the fog rolled in, visibility was greatly reduced. Some racers had to find and round the mark in the fog. When it burned off, they were able to see several fishing boats in the area that had been blanketed by the fog.
Sam said his instruments clocked winds between 10 and .01 knots, the latter of which caused he and his crew to sit “like a bobber” for 25 minutes before finally getting some wind.
Race coordinator Diane Salyer and husband Mark, captain of Boomerang, were pleased with the race, which had been planned for months after the idea came up last year. She said the sea was flat; had it been rougher it may have been more challenging. “The lack of wind and the fog made the race challenging; however that’s what makes a great race.” She said the sea turtles and dolphins were an added bonus on Boomerang’s first race.
SYC Fleet Captain Deale said the fog tested racers’ navigation skills. The course, he said, was just right for the type of race they’d envisioned. While most racers had wished for a bit more wind, there was enough to move boats. He said Bernadette never got below three knots of boat speed.
Johnston was also pleased with the race, although he and Deale say it’s a work in progress. He thanked the many volunteers who helped plan the race as well as the racers and spectators who made it such a success. And he’s already thinking of how to improve The Southport Cup next year.