The 475-nautical mile 2023 Annapolis-to-Newport Race got underway on Friday, June 2, with competitors bracing for challenging conditions in the Atlantic Ocean. Separate starts on consecutive days were held in light air, a far cry from what the fleet of 53 boats in eight classes are expected to encounter during the offshore passage. Forecasts called for an upwind slog in 25 to 30-knot winds and 10-foot seas.
Annapolis Yacht Club’s Tony Parker has completed more Annapolis-to-Newport races than he can remember, and acknowledged this will be one of the more challenging. The 77-year-old was not looking forward to pounding upwind into steep waves for 25 to 30 hours, or more – and Parker is fortunate to be aboard a boat that can handle such brutal beating conditions. The Washington, D.C. resident is the skipper of Morris 47 Reindeer, a renowned offshore racer. Reindeer was previously owned by Newbold Smith, who sailed her to great success in various point-to-point distance races along the Eastern seaboard. “It is an incredibly good ocean-going vessel, especially in the type of conditions we’re going to see in this race,” Parker said. “In heavy air either beating or close reaching, it’s as good as any boat in the fleet. There are a lot of other boats that are going to struggle to handle these conditions.”
When the scores were tallied after racing, Parker’s Reindeer finished 13 amongst 62, and 6 out of 16 in class. This finish is especially impressive in a race that proved overly challenging for the 34 vessels who retired due to the conditions.