Launching early from Annapolis’ Eastport Yacht Club and ending at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, the 5th annual Elf Classic Yacht Race brings the centuries-old tradition of yacht racing back to the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday, May 16. Proceeds from the race benefit the Classic Yacht Restoration Guild and CBMM, where race participants will be greeted and the winners announced later in the day.
The race is organized by CYRG and features America’s oldest active racing yacht, the 1888 Elf. Restored by the CYRG to historically accurate condition and re-launched in 2008, the Elf is a Lawley-built 30-foot class cutter that pioneered off-shore yacht cruising in 1893 by being the first small craft to cruise round-trip from Marblehead, Ma. to Halifax, N.S.
For the May 16 race, a fleet of classic yachts will join Elf in a cloud of traditional sail for an 1880s-style race. Featuring a nautical “Le Mans start,” the race begins with each yacht’s captain first rowing a tender to their vessels before raising anchor and setting sail across the Chesapeake Bay. “These boats are something to see all on their own,” commented CYRG President Rick Carrion. “So you can imagine how spectacular it is to see so many rare boats coming together for this race.”
The race begins at 9 a.m. at the Eastport Yacht Club, where spectators can bid farewell to the racing fleet, its captain and crew. On the water, the race can be seen across the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis and into the Eastern Bay.
The race concludes at the St. Michaels harbor on the Miles River at CBMM, where museum guests and onlookers will greet the fleet of classic racing yachts as they arrive along the museum’s St. Michaels waterfront. The race ends when the captains have anchored off, rowed to shore, and signed the race log at the museum’s historic Tolchester Beach Bandstand.
New this year will be a special award for the winning boat, with Fordham Brewing generously donating the winning captain’s weight in beer.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Fordham for the race,” said Carrion. “They are great supporters of CBMM, and now our captains have one more reason to win.”
To see a video of last year’s race, go to www.bit.ly/ElfClassic. To register a yacht for the race, download a complete registration package under the "Events" tab at www.cyrg.org, or contact CYRG’s Rick Carrion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Early registration is recommended—with wooden, classic, and traditional yachts given preference when participating vessel limits are reached.
CYRG is a member organization dedicated to the preservation of maritime heritage through the maintenance and operation of the Elf. She was designed by George Lawley & Son of South Boston, Massachusetts, and built in 1888 for William H. Wilkinson. Over the warmer months, she can be seen dockside at CBMM and out along the Miles River and Chesapeake Bay.
CBMM is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the Chesapeake Bay. With 18 waterfront acres in the historic town of St. Michaels, the museum offers exhibitions, demonstrations, on-the-water experiences, educational programming, and annual festivals and events celebrating Chesapeake Bay culture, boats, seafood, and history. For more information about CBMM, visit www.cbmm.org or call 410-745-2916.