Thanks to the Capital Gazette for this report: Hugh Bethell wasn’t sure he would be able to sail in the J/105 Chesapeake Bay Championship. Two days before delivering his boat to Annapolis for the National Offshore One Design series, Bethell discovered core damage. Jester lives on a trailer at the Clinton Street Marina in Baltimore, and Bethell noticed the problem while cleaning the bottom. "I saw an area that was concave instead of convex," he said. Heeding the recommendation of other J/105 owners, Bethell brought Jester to Muller Marine in Annapolis to perform the repair. That boatyard just changed hands with longtime owner Bobby Muller selling to Corey Blazevich and Brandon Beylo. "After we got her off the trailer at Muller’s, we discovered it was worse than I initially realized," Bethell said. "Luckily, the new owners of Muller’s made it their mission to have the boat done in time for the event." Muller Marine cut the outer skin of the hull and replaced the core in four places then replaced the skin. Bethell thanked Beylo and Blazevich for their "concierge" service and said the repair was so professional one could hardly tell it had been done. Jester was launched a day ahead of schedule, and Bethell promptly skippered the Baltimore boat to victory in the J/105 Chesapeake Bay Championship. Kevin Petrikas served as tactician for Bethell, who won two races and placed second in two others. Bethell sailed with his regular crew that does the Baltimore City Yacht Association Tuesday Night Series on a regular basis. Rich Shores (bow), Michael Woollen (headsail trimmer), Todd Cagwin (main trimmer), Jake Wolf and Chris Endres (both pit) completed the team. "I was fortunate to have a crew that really knows the boat. We’ve sailed together on a lot of Tuesday nights in Baltimore, and I can count on them to cover up all the mistakes I make at the back of the boat," Bethell said. This was the first Chesapeake Bay Championship for Bethell, a Baltimore resident who has owned a J/105 since 2002. Bethell named his boat in honor of his son. "We bought this boat when my son was two years old. He was a funny kid with a wicked laugh and really loved being out on the water," Bethell explained. When the wind was strong and the boat was heeling, he would let out this crazy laugh. My wife and I started calling him our little Jester." Storms passed through Annapolis Thursday into Friday, and a gale was forecast for Sunday night. Competitors expected variable conditions, and the Chesapeake Bay delivered with Saturday’s breeze ranging from 6 to 16 knots with massive changes in direction. "There were literally 25-degree shifts happening multiple times per race. You could lose a lot of places in a hurry, so some luck was involved," Bethell said. Sunday brought more consistent velocity with winds holding steady in the upper teens, but shiftiness persisted – forcing the Annapolis Yacht Club race committee to work overtime to keep the course square. Because of the previous two days of rain, there was a strong current coming out of the Severn River that impacted the racetrack. "Our strategy throughout the event was to get off the line cleanly, even if a little late because Fleet 3 is full of teams that know how to start well," Bethell said. "After that, we just focused on staying in a clear lane headed to the side of the course we thought might see more velocity or an early shift." Midshipman Katie Boyle skippered the Naval Academy varsity offshore sailing team to a second-place finish aboard Constellation. Maddie Ploch steered for Navy, which won Race 3 after placing second in Race 2 in totaling 15 points, nine astern of Jester. Ben DuPont skippered Ctrl Alt Del to a consistent score line of all single-digit results in the 20-boat fleet to take third. Mirage totaled six points in three races but was undone by a 15th-place finish that was largely a result of one of those huge shifts. "We’re really grateful that Linda Ambrose and everyone else at AYC found a way to put on this regatta despite the pandemic, the weather, and all the other challenges they faced," Bethell said. "Out on the water, for just a few hours, we could all forget how much the world has changed."