- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2003

Veteran sailor Larry Bulman of Bethesda has changed his tack for the Governor’s Cup Yacht Race.

“It used to be just a fun destination with a party at the end,” he said as he dangled his feet off the edge of his 50-foot sailboat, the Javelin. “Now I leave the partying for the kids.”

The Governor’s Cup has been a Maryland tradition for 30 years, and Mr. Bulman, 65, has sailed in most of them.

He won the first-in-class award at the inaugural Governor’s Cup race in 1974, and last weekend he won two of the race’s three prestigious trophies: first in fleet and the Steven Bickell trophy for most improved.

Mr. Bulman and his 11-member crew set sail Friday with 150 other boats for the 70-mile voyage down the Chesapeake Bay to Saint Mary’s College inSouthern Maryland.

The Governor’s Cup is one of the few remaining overnight races down the Bay, and as usual the boats jockeyed for a favorable position Friday before the starting cannon fired.

“I thought I would go one way, but when I saw the smoke coming out of the cannon, we changed course,” said David Kim, skipper of the boat Delirious, which finished first in its class.

The Javelin crew used its good starting position, experience and a little luck to lock in a position with only the mammoth 72-foot Donnybrook sailing in front.

Javelin’s crew watched the black Donnybrook intently.

“We’re about to get his bad wind,” said Andrew Spaulding, alerting fellow crew members to change the sail position, called tacking, to pitch the ship to the other side. Ropes hissed and heads ducked while sailors rushed to the other side of the boat.

Mr. Bulman, a lawyer, said he is competitive and prefers racing to cruising. However, he said the race is not just about the trophy.

“It is about the camaraderie,” he said. “I have lost track of how many of these things I have raced and won over the years. Sometimes you win things that you shouldn’t have, and other times you lose things you should have had.”

Mr. Bulman liked the conditions during the 10-hour sail, and the majority of his competitors agreed that the steady breeze and calm water were perhaps the best in the cup’s history and would yield fast times.

Though Javelin crew members faced light rain, boats behind them had to contend with downpours through the night.

As sunset approached, a rainbow lighted the storm clouds and the crew settled into a pace. Two boats remained visible from aboard the Javelin: the Donnybrook, ahead, and the Sjambok, close behind.

“There is nothing like night sailing,” Mr. Spaulding, 34, said as he leaned his head back looking at the stars appearing through the clouds.

The Javelin’s crew set its course and let the ship do the rest for a while. HaraldManpold of Alexandria followed the course along his hand-held Global Positioning System. The ship’s tactician, Kenny Saylor, took the wheel and lit a cigarette.

Mr. Bulman, who broke three ribs in June, talked strategy with Mr. Saylor, who was lighting another cigarette.

The race was started in 1974 by two St. Mary’s College students and an alumnus. They envisioned an overnight race on the Bay from Annapolis to St. Mary’s City.

“This was a chance to unite the old capital with the new capital,” said former state Sen. J. Frank Raley Jr. “It seemed like a good idea, and it was.”

Forty-seven boats raced in seven classes at the first Governor’s Cup, but it soon became so popular that officials had to limit it to 300 boats.

Today, about half as many boats participate, but the race draws a faithful crowed of sailors, including non-racers who show up for the all-day party Saturday.

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