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AYC Duo Captures Club 420 National Championship

Aidan Morgan jokingly referred to himself as a mail order bride. The Annapolis resident was referring to the fact he was partnered with San Francisco Yacht Club member Nick Marwell for this summer's Club 420 circuit.

Annapolis Yacht Club coach Johnny Norfleet arranged the marriage, thinking the two young sailors would make a strong team.

Norfleet, who coached Morgan last summer and Marwell at the Orange Bowl regatta, was accurate in his assessment.

Marwell and Morgan captured the Club 420 National Championship, held July 22-24 out of Falmouth Yacht Club in Massachusetts. The Annapolis Yacht Club duo placed second or third in five of six races that counted in totaling 16 points — two better than the runner-up team of Kyle Dochoda and George Sidamon-Eristoff from St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

"We had very good boat speed, both upwind and downwind, and our maneuvers were real sharp," Morgan said of the performance.

Marwell, who will be a senior at The Branson School in Marin County, California, has established himself as one of the top 420 skippers on the West Coast. He is sailing with AYC this summer since most of the major regattas for 420 class are held on the East Coast.

Morgan, a rising senior at Severn School, has skippered his own 420 in the past and thus brings a lot to the table as trimmer and strategist.

Marwell and Morgan won the Club 420 Association Chesapeake Regional, which was hosted by Severn Sailing Association in early July. They will compete together at the Buzzards Bay Regatta next weekend and the 420 North Americans, being held Aug. 18-21 out of Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club in California.

"We've really improved our communication skills since we started sailing together. That helps tremendously, especially in heavy air," Morgan said. "I think our timing has also gotten better. Our roll tacks are much quicker and smoother."

Marwell-Morgan have their sights set on capturing the Club 420 Association Triple Crown series, which incorporates the best scores from three of four regattas. With victories in the Chesapeake Regional and National Championships under their belt, the AYC tandem is well-positioned in the standings.

Morgan is continuing a family legacy as his older brothers also enjoyed tremendous success on the 420 circuit. Evan Morgan and Ian Morgan are both past North American champions and Club 420 Association Triple Crown winners.

Evan Morgan, who sailed at Fordham the past few years and is transferring to Virginia, secured those titles in 2013 while crewing for fellow Annapolis resident Charlie Lomax. Ian Morgan, who sails at Tufts, earned the 2014 championships as crew for Martina Slye of Fort Lauderdale.

Several other Annapolis Yacht Club teams showed well at the Club 420 National Championship. Connor Bayless and Kimmie Leonard had a top finish of second in placing 11th overall while Porter Kavle and Caroline McNeil posted a fourth en route to finishing 15th. Ryan Hennessey and Caroline Bayless also had a runner-up result on the way to taking 17th.

MILLER SERIES: Elliott Oldak was quite proud of winning the prestigious J. Rulon Miller Series for Star class way back in 1991. The Annapolis resident would never have guessed it would take 25 years to do it again.

Oldak teamed up with Stevensville resident Andy Noel to capture the 82nd Miller Series, held the weekend of July 16-17 and hosted by Gibson Island Yacht Squadron. Oldak steered Serenity to victory in three of four races in posting a low score of seven points, half the amount totaled by the runner-up entry of Mike Hecky and Will Wagner.

"It feels really weird to finally win this regatta again after all these years. Because I've been trying to do so for so long," said Oldak, who finished second through fifth many times between wins.

Racing was held on the Chesapeake Bay between Gibson Island and Baltimore Light. Oldak said strong current, typical of that area where the Magothy River meets the bay, was a major factor.

Oldak has not sailed his Star boat much over the last year, primarily racing in the Comet class. This is the third regatta he has done with Noel, who is an active racer in the J/70 and J/80 fleets.

"We tried to identify which boats to watch early in the event and stay close to them to some degree," Oldak said. "I thought we had the boat performing quite well and made smart decisions. It was quite tactical racing so you had to be on your toes."

Event Information and Results

Club 420 National Championship

1, Nicholas Marwell/Aidan Morgan, Annapolis Yacht Club, 3-2-2-4-(11)-3-2=16;
2, Kyle Dochoda/George Sidamon-Eristoff, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 2-4-5-(17)-1-5-1=18;
3, Timothy Greenhouse/Jack Dentale, American Yacht Club, 1-6-(9)-6-2-6-5=26