The Delta Dash was intended to be a bit of a middle distance race taking us out to the cut channel and down to Wolf Trap light covering roughly 40nm. The wind at 1pm when we were going to start was non-existent and so we postponed 40 minutes before the sea breeze filled they sent us on a much shorter 13nm course. We set out on the J99 Battle Rhythm with 3 other boats in our class – Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan.

J99 Battle Rhythm just after the start - Picture by Cathy Boe
Battle Rhythm just after the start – Picture by Cathy Boe

The first leg was upwind with the fleet crossing tacks towards Stingray Point light before tacking away from the shallow water. It took us a little bit to get settled and get the sail trim the way we wanted and we found we had really good boat speed relative to the boats around us even if we weren’t quite pointing with them. Ron and Chauncey were trimming jib while Holly and Dennis managed the front of the boat. Len was in the pit with me on main and Todd driving.

Sailing upwind on J99 Battle Rhythm in the mouth of the Piankatank.
In the mouth of the Piankatank tacking away from the shallows near the Stingray Point Light.

We headed further south thinking the current was going to take us away from the mark. Turns out we had the current wrong and was actually taking us towards the mark causing us to overstand and allowing the fleet to sail inside us and ahead at the mark. Excitation was over 8 minutes ahead of us as we headed upwind for 2nm on the 2nd leg.

Reaching to the finish with Corryvreckan just ahead and Excitation and Afterthought in the distance.

The last leg was a close reach back into the Piankatank – we set the spinnaker and slowly caught up to the boats ahead of us, but not nearly enough to catch them on corrected or on the course.

Len, Todd, Chauncey, Dennis and Holly

We learned some things – some new settings on the navigation system to help us identify laylines. We found better routing of the jib and spinnaker sheets through the blocks. We did a little more tinkering with the jib leads to improve the flow over the top of the sail. Thanks Todd for having us along and looking forward to the Smith Point race next month.

PICTURES | RESULTS

We had a super day for the FBYC One Design Long Distance Race. I was sailing an ILCA, one of 3 in the race, including one that sailed off a beach in Mathews to join us, against 10 other boats ranging from Melges 15s to Flying Scots to a Front Runner and a Rocket.

At the first starboard rounding just behind a Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.
At the first starboard rounding just behind a Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.

We started in Godfrey Bay and did a short leg upwind to #12 in the Piankatank in 8 knots out of the ENE. The first mark could be fetched from the start, but just barely so a boat end start was critical. I was a few seconds late following a Melges 15 who was a little early and bore off leaving a nice hole for me to start. Another ILCA was behind me and behind them was a Flying Scot.

Upwind I tried to hold my line and make the Flying Scot go around me. I ended up rounding 3rd as we headed east on an almost upwind angle to Piankatank #8. As we passed Stove Point the clear fetch enabled the wind to build to the low teens. My decision not to wear hiking pants didn’t seem so wise. The Front Runner passed me on this leg leaving me in 4th as we went nearly upwind again to FBYC-B just off Stove Point. Thus far everything has been almost upwind and I was in 5th as we turned to go back.

Nearing 8 a Garland's Melges 15 is right on my heels.
Nearing 8 a Garland’s Melges 15 is right on my heels.

The course in reverse was still a lot of reaching making it hard for the symmetrical boats to fly their chutes and even the asymmetrical spinnaker boats weren’t able to fly their chutes all of the way back. It was great reaching conditions for the ILCA and I was able to reel in the Front Runner and the Flying Scot on the long leg back to 12. Eventually 1 Melges 15 got around me and I was the 4th boat over the line behind 3 Melges 15s and corrected to 3rd overall.

Reaching back into the Piankatank in front of a couple of Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.
Reaching back into the Piankatank in front of a couple of Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.

Thanks to Lew and his team for running our races and congrats to Walker on a well sailed race.

RESULTS | PICTURES

FBYC’s Cut Channel race is unique in that the sailors get to decide which route to take around a pre-defined course choosing either ot go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The course goes out of the Piankatank across the bay to the cut channel, up or down it depending on the direction and then finishing back in the mouth of the Piankatank. With a southerly wind we though we could hold the spinnaker on two of the 3 main legs and that would make up for the time on the remaining short leg going upwind.

Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.
Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.

We had a good start just to leeward of Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan. Excitation chose the same clockwise route that we did while Afterthought, Corryvreckan and Chilcoot took the counter clockwise route. Once clear of the line we all hoisted spinnakers. Unfortunate, we put 5′ tear in the foot of ours which would need to be repaired on a subsequent leg.

The trip across the bay was uneventful and we settled in under spinnaker. We saw winds into the upper teens at times and it came back to the mid-teens closer to the other side. As we approached the turning mark to go upwind we made sure to take the chute down on the opposite side so we could put it back up more easily on a later leg.

 April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.
April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.

While on the upwind Todd and Barb worked down below on repairing the spinnaker while everyone else was on the rail going upwind. We started with a reef in and were making good speed upwind. The wind eased and we eventually shook the reef. I steered for the last 2/3 of the 6.8nm upwind leg. While we were also going upwind we passed the boats going downwind who were doing the counterclockwise course. It was pretty clear by then and started to sink in that there was no way we were going to make up the time on the remaining leg. Excitation was near us and wound up crossing tacks with them and they later rounded ahead of us.

After we rounded the southern mark we headed back to the mouth of the Piankatank under spinnaker. We were going good until we saw something suspicious with the main halyard and wanted to check on it so we proceeded to take the spinnaker and the main down to do so. We were able to re-hoist both and continued on finishing some 20 minutes after the leaders.

All in all was a fun day and learned some things about this course and the boat we’ll bring back for next time.

PICTURES | RESULTS

A little bit of upwind sailing aboard J99 Battle Rhythm in the lee of Stingray Point.
A little bit of upwind sailing aboard J99 Battle Rhythm in the lee of Stingray Point.

We got out for another day of practice on the J99 Battle Rhythm. This time Jess came along and this time we also had gusts into the low 30’s. We had 8 aboard and we went out into the mouth of the Piankatank and tested out our reef setup. We weren’t super happy with the fittings for the 2nd reef, so we sailed for a little bit under main only and ultimately headed in so we didn’t break anything. It was still good to see how things setup so we can make adjustments for when we really needed it. We did get to pull the jib out for a few minutes when we got into the lee of the land. We also got to see some porpoises and skates. Jess had a good time and enjoyed getting out on a big boat for the first time in a couple years.

Jon & Jess aboard Battle Rhythm
Jon & Jess aboard Battle Rhythm

PICTURES

Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.
Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.

After threats of rain all week for this evening and even an afternoon shower a few hours before race time we ended up with beautiful weather and windy conditions for FBYC’s 2022 Moonlight Race. I was sailing with Mike S, Hunter, Clark and Mike T aboard his J105 Moo Hoos. The course would send us out into the bay, north the the mouth of the Rappahannock and then back into the Piankatank near Stove Point. There would be 2 starts with us as one of the 6 boats in the PHRF fleet and 3 in the cruising fleet.

Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.
Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.

We had arguably the best start of the fleet with a couple boats boxed out at the boat, we hit the line right on time a boat length down from the boat end. Unfortunately, Afterthought, a J109 able to point much higher then our shoal draft 105, was below us and forced us to tack away and in doing so we had to quickly duck Mad Hatter. That didn’t end up being too bad of a move as we got a nice lift and 1/2 mile later when we converged on the weather mark we were just ahead of Mad Hatter and just behind Afterthought.

Afterthought changing head sails.
Afterthought changing head sails as we sailed by out of the Piankatank.

From there it was another mostly upwind starboard tack as we headed out of the Piankatank and into the bay. Afterthought was overpowered and went for a headsail change while we were able to slip by them. When we got to the next mark we could see the current was ripping up the bay so we elected to tack and go south to stay out of the current before heading east to the next mark. While that was generally a good move, we took it too far and vastly over stood allowing several boats to ‘cut the corner’ so to speak and round ahead of us. All of this upwind sailing was in winds in the upper teens. We had a class jib up and a full main and worked to feather the main and steer between the waves while keeping the boat flat. Sitting on the rail we got drenched a couple times when we hit some of the larger waves.

Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us.
Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us (for now).

By the time we hit the far mark the sunlight that remained was gone and it would be a reach for several miles up into the mouth of the Rappahannock. We could see ahead that none of the boats were flying a spinnaker – we thought pretty hard about it but the wind was just a little too far forward to flying it in the dark. We still made quite a bit of ground up and could see both Red Sky and Mad Hatter on the next upwind leg and were just about crossing tacks with them. By the time we passed Stingray Point Light and rounded the last mark back into the Piankatank we were just ahead of Red Sky and just behind Mad Hatter. We were able roll Mad Hatter and by the finish we were able to get our time on Afterthought, but not on most of the rest of the fleet.

It was a fun race followed by ice cream and rum. Thanks Mike for having me along and to Tom R, Blackwell, Randy and Brad for being our race committee.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

Sailing upwind on Battle Rhythm

Went out for some practice this afternoon on the J99 Battle Rhythm at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We started by working on some instrument calibration and then put the sails up and went upwind and out into the bay. The wind built as we went so we also practiced with a reef in and tried some different controls to de-power the boat when we needed it in the 12-14 knots of wind. Eventually it was time to come back and with just 4 of us on board we were able to effectively put up and fly the spinnaker as the wind built to as much as 15. It was a fun ride and looking forward to some racing later this summer.

PICTURES

I was able to make 2 of the 3 days of Southern Bay Race Week at Hampton Yacht Club sailing aboard Excitation – a Farr-Dickerson 37 from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We went out to light winds on Saturday and sailed on the north side of the James just west of the Hampton River. There were so many crab pots in this area the RC had trouble finding places to anchor. We spent the entire day of racing dodging these.

On the starting line near Tradition.
On the starting line near Tradition.

The wind started light, we kept the boat powered up and going fast. We were the longest, heaviest and tallest boat in our fleet and in these light winds we could point higher and sail faster and this was quite an advantage at the start allowing us to start almost any where we wanted. We tended to take conservative starts and wound up being a few seconds late, but this kept us out of traffic and enabled us to pick a lane and easily sail through any boats around us.

With so many other fleets on the course not only did we have crab pots to look out for, but we also had traffic from other legs of the fleet – either the tail end of the fleet ahead or other fleets around the course. With the spinnaker in particular this made it hard to work on our speed since we were always adjusting our course. The first two races went well and

Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.
Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.

As the wind built in the 3rd and 4th race we switched to smaller sails. We struggled a little bit in the 3rd race of the day and redeemed ourselves in the final race and finished 1-1-3-1 for the day.

We enjoyed a great crew dinner Saturday night and I crashed on the boat the club.

Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.
Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.

On Sunday we had more wind for 2 more races and thankfully a clearer sailing area. The increased wind made it harder for us to de-power while being right in the sweet spot for a few other boats and we didn’t enjoy the speed advantage that we did the day prior. We were also without our bowman and with one fewer crew member meant I was going forward more often to help out. It was still a good day of sailing and we went easy with the spinnaker keeping our gybes down. We finished 2-5 on Sunday and ended up 2 points out of 2nd place.

All in all a great weekend and thanks to Mayo for having me along! Great sailing sailing with the crew and a fun weekend.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS

J99 Battle Rhythm at Bert Jabin's Yard in Annapolis.
J99 Battle Rhythm at Bert Jabin’s Yard in Annapolis.

For the delivery of Battle Rhythm to Deltaville we had some unfavorable weather for our original plan yesterday which allowed me to jump on the race committee for the Down the Bay Race start. After another night in Annapolis we had an early start on Saturday. Battle Rhythm is a 32′ J99 sailboat #94 and was docked at Bert Jabins near Annapolis.

Battle Rhythm under spinnaker.
Battle Rhythm under spinnaker.

Once we were off the dock and into the Chesapeake Bay, we did a quick instrument calibration and then headed south around Tolly and Thomas Points. We started with good wind on the beam and with just 4 of us onboard we got the spinnaker up and were seeing 7.5 to 9 knots under spinnaker. Eventually the wind eased and we dropped the spinnaker and motor sailed again. When we were close to the mouth of the Patomac early in afternoon the wind again built and we raised the spinnaker again.

Eventually the wind dropped off to almost nothing and moved forward so as the sun was setting we struck all the sails and just motored the rest of the way to Deltaville. We arrived just after 9pm with a total trip time of 13 hours and just over 8.5 hours of motoring.

PICTURES