Things to Do

Racing With the Wind: Crew a Sailboat on the Chesapeake

Ditch rush hour on the Beltway for race hour on the Chesapeake Bay.

On Wednesday nights from late April through mid-September, the Annapolis Yacht Club hosts Wednesday Night Races. Even if you don’t know a mainsail from a jib, there are opportunities to join the crew of a competing boat.

The races are mostly a social affair, and many boats need a spare hand. Veteran crew members will show you the ropes and give you a few pointers about how to move about the boat, where to be, and (most important) where not to be. Soon you’ll find yourself in the thick of a race, leaning over the boat’s high side (a move called hiking) and feeling the wind and cooling mist rising off the bay. Rush hour will seem a million miles away.

After the race, which lasts about an hour, crews linger at dock in their boats, sharing a few beers and race stories before heading to the clubhouse for drinks and a buffet-style dinner.

All that you need to enjoy the race and the festivities is a spot on a boat. To find boats searching for crews, go to the Web site for Spinsheet magazine, which covers Chesapeake sailing. The site has a search engine for boats looking for crew—and for crew looking for boats.

You can also hang out at the Boatyard Bar & Grill in Annapolis, which Coastal Living magazine named one of the top ten bars for sailors. After the Wednesday night races, many sailors can be found there watching videos from the races. If you drop by and put the word out that you are looking to crew, there’s a good chance you’ll find a spot.

For more information about the races, contact that Annapolis Yacht Club.

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