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Iced In

Frostbite sailors stay home

Not cold, wind nor snow deters Frostbite sailors. But ice does.
    Most years, the Annapolis Yacht Cub’s Frostbite Sailboat Racing series would be in full swing.
    Racers layer up for warmth and follow winter safety rules: no walking on the decks (risk of ice) and sufficient crew (at least three adults) to manage a rescue. The Yacht Club keeps a careful eye on the weather, ready to cancel if conditions appear too hazardous. A fleet of motorboats stands by.
    On a typical Sunday, 50 to 80 boats might be out racing in the four-decade-old winter competition.
    Why, you ask?
    “There’s fewer folks on the water; it’s more peaceful. The racing is less complicated, with less crew and fewer sails, so you can focus on more tactics and strategy,” says Joe Krolak of Annapolis, a Frostbite racer for over 20 years.
    This winter, sailboats are trapped in their creeks by sheets of ice. Have been all Frostbite season which begins in November.
    “This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” says Krolak, who normally races his J-29, Blue Lunch, with a crew of friends who’ve sailed together since their days at Annapolis High School. “In previous years, we might have lost a week here or there. Never the entire series.”
    For now, they’re watching the Olympics, like everybody else.
    The first Sunday it thaws, Severn River here they come. They’ve still got one Sunday in February and five in March.