Oxford RC Laser Fleet
The Oxford RC Laser Fleet has been in full swing at Tred Avon Yacht Club annually since 2005. We have raced on Wednesday evenings in the spring and fall every year with an average of 12 boats on the water. That makes Oxford RC Laser the largest one-design fleet in the TAYC’s racing program, and one of the largest RC fleets on Chesapeake Bay.
Oxford RC Laser began in 2005, when Jim Karr, a yacht broker from Easton, Maryland, was visited by an old business associate, Steve Lang. Lang was in the area to race CR914s, a radio-controlled boat designed after the America’s Cup IACC class (late 1990s). Jim went with Steve to observe the racing in Annapolis, and was impressed by the level of competition. Steve gave Jim an RC Laser to try out, and soon Jim had become a dealer. His initial customers were Jim Reynolds, John Devlin, Dave Pulzone, and Jim Wolf, all TAYC members.
Since that modest beginning, Oxford RC Laser has grown steadily. The fleet was initially welcomed to the TAYC docks, and supported by the TAYC board. Oxford RC Laser became an official fleet in TAYC’s one design racing program in 2016.
The Oxford RC Laser fleet has become a significant force in its American Model Yachting Association region for the invitational regattas it has hosted over the years. Several national championships for other RC boats sailed by members (EC12-meters and Stars), as well as RC Lasers, have been held here. Sailors from as far away as New Zealand and the UK have been drawn to the combination of five-star hosting provided by the TAYC, and the high-quality sailing on the open waters of the Tred Avon River. Oxford RC Laser TAYC Fleet Captain, Dave Branning, who is also Secretary of AMYA Region Two and has been responsible for organizing many of these regattas.
Oxford RC Laser is a family. Wives, partners, and friends have, from the beginning, happily pitched in to provide the backup every racing series needs. Jim Karr’s wife, Paula, was the first score keeper. Bonnie Richards, whose late husband Dick was an early skipper, learned from Paula and is still on the job. Former esteemed Etchells sailor, Bob “Bubbles” Shattuck, was the first PRO. Tot O’Mara, who was TAYC’s first female commodore, took over from Bubbles, and continues to run a tight ship fueled with good humor. Elaine Hepkin, Desne Roe, Chris Tochko, and Madi Yates make up the remainder of the current race committee. Skippers Roger Baldwin, Bob Roe, John Tochko, Claude Maechling, Pete Bailey, and Roger Vaughan, do the lion’s share of the operations work, from building and maintaining racing marks, to setting courses.
Oxford RC Laser continues to grow and is well over 25 boat owners at the start of 2018. Perhaps it’s because both the racing and the camaraderie are engaging. RC sailing is unique in that one can both sail his or her boat and appreciate its performance from afar at the same time. And all Oxford RC Laser skippers agree that because of the broad overview one has of the fleet and the course, racing RC has made them better tactical sailors. The skippers also know that sailing RC is a great way to extend their racing careers without having to make all those crew sandwiches every week.
Spring Series runs March 18 to June 10
Fall Series runs September 9 to October 28
Winter Sailing: Sundays when weather permits.