From the look of this blog it might look like we don’t have anything going on – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite quarantining we’ve been busy planning a wedding for this fall and this weekend we went to Deltaville to get some engagement photos taken.
Huge thanks to Joe, George and David for letting us pose on their boats!
Photos: Nancy Topham https://miketopham.com/
Since the last time I’ve raced a Laser the world has changed a lot. With the virus and social distancing and the cancellations and postponements – my first time Laser Sailing this year would be in June at the postponed Laser Spring Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We had a fantastic turnout with 11 Lasers and another 10 radials like on account of few other regattas going on this month and Junior week that was postponed, but junior race teams that have started practices.
The forecast all week was for cloudy, windy and chance of rain. It ended up being absolutely beautiful with sunny skies, light winds to starts and moderate temperatures.
Out on the racecourse we were originally going to start the Laseres with the Radials – we did a practice start with all of us together and there was a lot of over-earlies and just a lot of confusion. After the practice start and a general recall the fleets were finally split and we sent the Radials first followed by the Standards. The wind was about 8-9 for that first race.
With a little boat favor I made sure to win the boat and stay in clear air. By the top mark I found myself in 2nd just behind Avery who sailed just a little to the left of me. I followed him downwind, but on the final upwind to the finish I got a little out of phase and dropped 3 boats to finish 5th. Having not sailed in almost 7 months it was great to hang with the fleet and have upwind speed. I’m also down about 10 pounds and the lighter air helped there too.
In the second race I again won the boat and led at the windward mark and downwind. On the final beat I missed a big shift almost auto-tacked. By the time i recovered Avery sailed by and I was able to stay ahead of Luke for 2nd.
In the 3rd race the wind went a little more left and picked up a bit. I had an ok start and didn’t quite win the boat. Rounded the top mark in 4th and wound up finishing there. Alex had a great race and got away from me and just about caught Avery.
For the 4th and final race I decided to start closer to the pin. The wind had come a little left and the boat was looking at little crowded. I sailed in clear air and was 3rd at the top mark. Downwind James got around me and I would wind up 4th.
It’s been a while since I carried my cell phone with me in a waterproof case to tweet from the race course – today was the first time I was able to tweet between races using a cell-enabled watch. The dictation wasn’t super great, but it worked.
Huge thanks to Lew and the crew of Catitude for heading up race committee today.
This Christmas I added a new boat to the fleet – after selling the custom RG65 I had last year – the DragonForce 65 can be sailed one design as a DragonForce or in the RG65 class.
I’ve got some work to do to paint it in No Quarter colors and get it rigged.
Laurie, Jess and I were in Charlottesville to catch the UVA vs Duke Football game. It ended up being a bit of a blowout and it was great to see quarterback Bryce Perkins playing in person and dominating the game. The lopsided result made it a fun game to be at.
That night Jess and I stayed just west of Charlottesville and then went for a hike to McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail. The foggy conditions were a bit spooky but also meant we didn’t get much of a view for most of it. At the top we were entirely surrounded by fog. It was nice to be in nature and a fun hike.
Sailors are used to minding tides to plan their sailing – this ended up being another year the sailors needed to mind the tides with their cars. A harvest moon and a Nor’easter off the coast made the road to the club impassable at times throughout the weekend and we had to adjust the regatta schedule around when the road would be passable.
After all the high water in the morning we were postponed ashore close to 2 hours waiting for the wind to race. By the afternoon the wind had filled and the first race was started. I started on the left and banged the left corner seeing that there would be more wind there. I stayed clear of everyone and lead at the first mark. Gavin caught me downwind and I held on to finish 2nd.
For the 2nd race the wind went to the right and I started in the middle of the line and tacked to the right as soon as I was clear ahead. I was 5th at the top mark and stayed there after not being able to catch anyone in the lead pack.
In the 3rd race I started near the pin again and was able to punch out with just Natalie to my left. We continued to the lay line and she tacked onto my hip and stayed there until just before I should have ducked James Jacob who was coming across on starboard and instead of ducking him I was free to lee bow him into the mark in first place. As I rounded the mark I dropped the main sheet causing the boom to hit the mark and my weight to windward pulled the boat over on top of me. Between righting the boat and doing my turns I was deep and was only able to salvage a 16th.
I was super happy with my upwind speed today. I had good starts with room around me allowing me to punch out and go where I wanted with speed. Downwind I held my own but wasn’t fast relative to those around me. It was a solid day of racing sitting in 11th overall.
After sailing we had a fantastic meal and I was honored with a toast to years of service as the District 11 secretary and handed the baton to Scott Williamson who will be taking over. We enjoyed having so many people there to enjoy dinner with and reminise on regattas past and look forward to future sailing.
On Sunday we moved the first warning up to 9:30 since everyone had to arrive super early to get in before the tides went way up. I had never rigged my boat in the dark for a regatta. We also knew the wind was forecast to be better in the morning and die out as the day went on, so we were out early to make the most of it.
I started the first race I started right at the pin and went left into the NNE breeze heading across the river for Berryville Shores. I didn’t go quite as far as Dorian did to get into the lifted breeze closer to shore and I settled for a top 10 rounding. Typical for me I’d loose boats downwind and gain upwind ultimately settling for 9th.
The 2nd race was another long 5h. The wind dropped from 16 in the first race of the day to 14 and the wind went more right now coming right off Stove Point. I had a great start middle right and quickly punched out in front of the boats around me to the right. Boats to the left would get better shifts and more pressure and I would end up mid-teens at the first mark. I would go on to loose a couple boats downwind, but eventually claw my way back to 12th at the finish.
Around noon we were starting what would end up being hte last race of the regatta. The wind went back left and dipped to 9-10 at the start. I started right at the boat and there were numerous boats over early at the pin. I tacked out early to the right to find more pressure and at times looked punched. Had I sailed a little further to the left I would have gotten into the new wind and watch Eric J roll past me further to the left. I was in the teens at the mark and stuck way left downwind with Jeff M. The wind eased to 6-7 as we went downwind. I split from Jeff while he stayed left and got in better wind and as I went right I continued back into the pack still in the mid-teens. I had a good last upwind and picked up a boat or two finishing 11th.
By the time the 3rd race was done it was clear the wind was dying and so we called it a day. After the drop and after 3 boats ahead of me in the last race were OCS I finished 2-5-16-9-12-8 – good enough to tie me for 10th, but I lost the tie breaker on account of being in the younger age group.
It was a very successful regatta. I was so glad so many sailors came to join us. The race committee did a fantastic job making the best racing they could and keeping us sailing in the best wind each day. Alain not only got us fed, but well fed – another marvelous meal. And thanks to Jess for all of her support throughout the regatta and on the safety boat.
The FBYC Fall Regatta started out with a late start due to some confusion over the race time. In the morning the wind was blowing great – into the low 20’s as folks were arriving and those that would have sailed standard rigs all elected to switch down to the radials and join the juniors so we could sail in a single fleet with the same rig. All of the Flying Scots bailed on the day. By the time we had a race committee the wind had cracked off into the low teens – perfect standard-rig weather had we all not already decided to go Radial.
We finally got out to the race course for a 1pm start. Unfortunately for Henry, he broke his gooseneck in the prestart dropping us down to 7 boats. I had a great start and sailed up the middle left of the course while Finn and Reed worked the right in better shifts and pressure. I was right behind Finn at the top mark with Reed behind me. By the 2nd upwind the wind had dropped to 10-11 and I really had to focus on staying in pressure. I managed to beat Finn to the top mark, but downwind he caught a puff and blew right by me. At the finish Finn mistook the lap we were on and went for a rounding while I went across the finish line.
At the start of the 2nd race another boat flipped over and startled me when the top of the mast hit my deck just beside me. I pushed off the mast to keep us from tangling and was able to go on and start relatively on time. In this 1-lap race I stayed right behind Finn the whole time finishing 2nd.
In the 3rd race I won the boat but was a bit slow upwind with the traveler looser than I would have liked. I tried to play the shifts to the left, but was mostly on the wrong side of the course letting Reed get around me and had to settle for a 3rd.
In the 4th race the left finally paid, except Britt went even more left and led us at the top mark. Chad was right behind us and gave Finn some trouble and I was able to get around Britt to win the race with Finn behind me and Chad behind him.
At the start of the 5th race Margaret had a fantastic start and was mixing it up with the leaders to begin the leg. After many days of practice, today was her first time racing. I tried to bang the left again, but it didn’t work and I trailed Finn and Britt at the top mark. This being an H course I was able to tack early on the upwind to lay the finish and just managed to beat out Britt for a 2nd. Finn would go on to win the day by 2 points.
We had a ton of fun racing today. The wind held in most of the day. Finn, Reed, Chad, Britt and the rest of the fleet were all fun competitors to sail with and the race committee did a good job keeping our course square and getting us started.
We had a light air race day for the Indian Summer Regatta. We sailed 3 races in the Portsmouth class against the San Juan 21 and a Front Runner. Paul Almany got a couple of good photos of us.
Jess and I made a weekend trip down to Greenville to see ECU take on William & Mary. ECU won and we got to go down on the field after the game.
Day 2 of the Crab Claw Regatta and Laser District 11 Championship at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis and we were greeted light winds and a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind. It came soon enough and along with the clearer skies we ended up with 12-14 knots of wind out of the North. We were out in the north sailing area looking upwind at the bridge.
In 3 races I had pretty good starts usually winning the boat or close to it and crossed most of the fleet on the first upwind. I didn’t quite have the upwind speed as some of the fast guys, but held my own when I remembered to round the offset and didn’t hit any marks. By the 3rd race I started to get the boat dialed in a little better and had better speed and didn’t make any mistakes leading to my weekend best of a 4th. Ended up 15th overall and it was great to sail with some competition to tune up before the FBYC Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters in October. Luke, Eric, Mike, Scott and Dave all sailed great this weekend and were fast all the way around the course. Thanks to Scott, Dorian and the fleet for hosting!
One other bit of news coming out of the weekend – Scott Williamson is going to take over as the District 11 Secretary. It’s a post I’ve held since the end of 2006. The Laser fleets in the mid-Atlantic remain a great group of sailors and it’s been fun to see the ups and downs of the fleets and to help play a part in connecting sailor and getting them out sailing. Thanks for taking this on Scott and I look forward to continuing to see the sailors I’ve met throughout the district for many years to come.