Freeman Creek on Maryland’s Eastern Shore saw a record 21 boats and 19 drivers assembled on June 17 to contest the Cocktail Class Wooden Boat Racing Association’s (CCWBRA) Camp David Cup. Teams came from Florida, Tennessee, Connecticut, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to compete for the elusive prize. The Cup goes to the lowest-scoring driver at the meet and encourages entering in multiple classes. There were 37 entries in four classes.

cocktail class
Cocktail Class Skuas at the Beach of Singing Trees.

There were a number of new faces and new boats. Reappearing was the legendary #109, Pink Lady, the hot pink Skua, now piloted by recently introduced racer, Richard Wittich.

Art Gilbert in his bright orange Screw Driver, #270, drove from the Northern Neck of Virginia to make his debut at Camp David. If Saturday’s meet was any indication, this is a boat/driver combo to watch in the future as Gilbert took second place in the very competitive Tohatsu 6-hp class.  

The day broke with a thin overcast that gave way to hazy sunshine, which many attributed to Canadian wildfire smoke arriving on the west/northwest breeze that barely riffled Freeman Creek.  

At the skipper’s meeting, race director Benji Cantera announced that due to the forecast’s increasing winds, the 8-hp class, normally the last of the day, would be run first. Four boats made it to the finals with Cameron Walker in Tennessee Moonshine, #888, taking first place in the first two sprints. He took second in the third sprint, battling with Farr Yacht Design’s Russ Bowler in Flyin’ Kiwi, #40, who took the last sprint and second place in the first sprint. Daryl Kepler in Silver Bullet, #777, finished 4-2-3 for third place in the class. It was close racing and a great way to start the day.

cocktail class
Race director Benji Cantera outlines the course. 

The ever-growing Tohatsu 6-hp class took up the rest of the morning. Twelve boats in three preliminary heats of three sprints each were distilled down to the final with five boats. The racing was very cut and thrust with several photo finishes. Adopting a single engine has clearly had the desired effect of emphasizing driver skill and hull system preparation. The differences between drivers’ skill levels becomes smaller and the competition tighter.

The first sprint of the Tohatsu final heat went to Pennsylvania’s Andy Thomas in Swamp Rocket, #28, with Art Gilbert’s Screw Driver, #270, hot on his heels. Kim Granbury’s French 75, #3, was DNF and out for the rest of the race. Annaliesse Cantera in Rolling Thyme, #114, beat her brother Benji in Ball Breaker, #115, to the line for third place. Not to be outdone, Benji took first in the second sprint followed by Thomas and Gilbert. Gilbert returned the favor and took first in the last sprint to clinch his second in the class, with Thomas in hot pursuit to grab the second spot and first place in the class. Annaliesse pushed Rolling Thyme into third ahead of her brother, but it was not enough to prevent him from third place in the class.  

cocktail class
Jack Pettigrew in #82, Havin' Fun, was able to avoid a DNF by paddling. 

After the first two classes, the assembled multitude walked up the hill for the traditional BBQ with all the sides and exotic soft drinks (sarsaparilla, birch beer, etc.). By the end of lunch, there was no time to be wasted as the breeze kicked up and became more northerly.  

Two preliminary heats in the Post ’79 Mixed class yielded a five-boat final. Andy Allerton in Smoking Loon, #53, took first place by winning the first sprint, placing third in the second sprint, and second in the third. Just one point separated him from Ray Crowley of Dunedin, FL, in Neat, #417, who was on his heels for second in the first sprint and won the third. He placed fourth in the second sprint. Benji Cantera in Ice Man, #113, copped the third position finishing 3-2-3.Flyin’ Kiwi, #40, with Russ Bowler at the helm, swept the Late Classic final with Tennessee Fleet Captain Cameron Walker pressing hard and finishing second in all three sprints. Frank Cantera finished third. The Early Classic race had but two entries and neither made it to the start line, so the class was cancelled.  

cocktail class
Last year’s winner Frank Cantera presents the Cup to Cameron Walker and Russ Bowler. 

When all was said and done, all present repaired to the top of the hill for awards. For the first time ever, there was a statistical tie for the Camp David Cup between Cameron Walker and Russ Bowler. Last year’s winner Frank Cantera handed over the gold and both their names will be inscribed on the trophy.

This year’s Camp David turned out to be a stupendous start to the 2023 Mid-Atlantic CCWBRA racing season, even for those who did not make it to the podium. Jack Pettigrew’s paddling prowess saved the day, as Havin’ Fun, #82 was able to avoid a DNF in the Late Classic Mixed race. 

Contributed by Tulio Vulgaris