At one point Sunday, 15 seconds separated Fatal Attraction and three other sailboats leading their class at the seventh annual Screwpile Challenge Regatta.

"We were on the wrong end of 15 seconds," said Dave Scott, a member of the crew of Fatal Attraction. "It took us a while to work ourselves up. From then on out, we got straight bullets and picked up the pace."

And did what they have been doing the whole season. The boat rebounded to win the race, and its class, at the three-day, Southern Maryland Sailing Association-sponsored event, which ended Tuesday.

The regatta, one of the Washington region's largest yacht races, featured 121 boats in 11 classes. Winners were based on cumulative results from five races in each class. The races started at Solomons Island and took place on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Patuxent River.

Fatal Attraction's crew members -- based in Hampton, Va., and Annapolis -- have been sailing on and off for five years. Since the spring, they haven't finished lower than second while competing in races at Key West and Miami.

"They're a total package," boat owner Gray Kiger said. "From the boat preparation, the sailing inventory and the talent and experience the crew has on the boat. Put it together and it's an awesome package."

Members of the Fatal Attraction crew didn't panic when they had to replace a sail Friday night, two days before the regatta began. In fact, they planned it that way.

"That's our point," Scott said. "We did our preparation. There's a standard, and we keep updating the standard. Start at the top of the mast to the bottom of the keel."

Fatal Attraction also was co-winner of the team competition, in which its points were combined with those of The Simpsons and Full Circle -- unofficial winners of their respective classes. The team was dubbed Team Harry, after Scott's son.

The Screwpile Regatta, whose name was inspired by the screwpile lighthouses that lined the Chesapeake Bay in the late 19th century, provided a particular challenge for Fatal Attraction.

Many regatta races feature boats with a wide range of sizes. But most of the 10 boats in Fatal Attraction's class were in the 40-foot range, making the handicaps closer and the races more aggressive.

"It was the most competitive 40-foot regatta of the year," Scott said. "You have to differ tactics."

Trophies were presented each night. Heading into Tuesday, in a Class 4 handicap race, two local boats battled each other for first place. The boats -- Midnight Express and Still A Gorilla -- were the highest finishers of SMSA racers.

Midnight Express, raced by Dameron resident Darryl Greb, won by a point over Still A Gorilla, which was captained by Barney Hathaway of Lusby.

On Monday, Midnight Express, which often relies on handicap points, won its race and was first to cross the finish line for the first time ever. The craft passed two boats on the last leg, even though Midnight Express was rated as the slowest boat in its class.

"Our whole thing was we're the slowest boat, and we had nothing to prove," Greb said. "Let's go out and have a good time. We made some good tactical decisions."

The next-highest local finisher was Rhumb Punch, raced by John Edwards of California. He finished second in the Class 8 non-handicap race, three points behind The Simpsons.

CAPTION: Boats begin to leave Solomons Island on Tuesday morning for the last of three days of racing in the seventh annual Screwpile Challenge Regatta.

CAPTION: Boats head out toward the Chesapeake Bay from Solomons Island, beginning Tuesday's final day of races in the Screwpile Challenge Regatta. The regatta, held at the mouth of the Patuxent River, featured 121 boats in 11 classes. The Screwpile is one of the Washington region's largest yacht races.