We had a light-air day for the first day of ILCA sailing at Fishing Bay Yacht Club for the ILCA Spring Regatta. We shared the course with the Flying Scots and first race at FBYC of the Melges 15.

I had a good start in the first race and held my speed against Reed and Scott. Near the top mark I went the wrong way and rounded behind both of them. Holly was just behind. Downwind I caught up and passed Scott at the mark and then on the second long upwind he went left while I went right into even less wind allowing Scott to get back ahead and stay there to the finish.

Jon start the race in an ILCA at the port end of race 2.
Port end start of race 2.

In the second race the ILCA were started with the Melges 15. I started down at the pin to keep boats from port-tacking the fleet.

For the second race – the ILCA were started with the Melges 15. From there it was just following the other ILCA around the course. What we didn’t do, however, is follow the Melges 15 around the course. This was the first day for many of those sailors in those boats, though it was interesting to see their speed in such light air.

Jon at the start of the 3rd race.
Jon at the boat end near the during the start of the 3rd race.

In final race the ILCA were started together with the remaining Flying Scots and the Melges 15. The wind was continuing to die and we just needed to get racing on al already shortened course. At the start I creeped up to the line at the boat end and just got there a little too soon and had to wait for the fleet to sail away so I could duck and clear my OCS. The rest of the race went much like the rest, the ILCA sailed out ahead of the other fleets upwind and I was still unable to catch Reed or Scott and finished 3rd for the 3rd time today. It was a nice day to shake the cobwebs out and thanks to David H and the RC for getting us as much racing as the wind would allow.

PICTURES | RESULTS

This week I had planned on sailing on Excitation, but FBYC was in need of a PRO for the first Spring Series race day and it was a chance for me to jump in and volunteer. I’m super appreciative of all of the people who joined us, particularly those last minute.

PHRF-BC fleet start with Mad Hatter foreground.
PHRF-BC fleet start with Mad Hatter foreground.

We had 10 boats total and took the 2 fleets just south of the Stingray Point light to race into a SE breeze at 10-14 knots. After a short postponement to lengthen the line we got both fleets started on a 1.25nm course. By midway into the race the wind would ease a bit to 8-12 where it would stay for the rest of the day. Thankfully the wind didn’t change direction and enabled us to leave the course set or both races making it easy on us.

The start of the PHRF-A fleet aboard Mr. Roberts. Donna, Vera, Jon pictured.
The start of the PHRF-A fleet aboard Mr. Roberts. Donna, Vera, Jon pictured.

Cheeky Monkey had a fast sail in the first race. The Nanuq team was sailing like a well-oiled machine nailing their maneuvers on this early season race day. Excitation would put in a solid effort and Mad Hatter had a good day to win the PHRF-BC fleet.

Finish line with Vera, Jon, Carol, Cathy and Rick as Corryvreckan finishes.
Finish line with Vera, Jon, Carol, Cathy and Rick as Corryvreckan finishes.

A couple things I learned or were reinforced as a PRO – it was really critical to have a conversation with the two fleet leaders before we went out so we could talk about the length of course, sailing area, number of races and timing of the races. We also discussed some options should expected changes happen. This made it easy on us so we knew what to expect and was great for the racers as they got exactly what they wanted and knew why we did what we did.

Thanks again to Cathy, Donna, Vera, Carol, Rick, John K, Joe R and Wade for all of their help on RC making it a great day for the racers.

JON’S PICTURES | CAROL’S PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS

Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.
Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.

Fishing Bay Yacht Club had a gorgeous day in April to open the season. After a flag raising 7 boats in 3 classes headed out for 10nm race out into the bay and back to shake out the cobwebs and get the season started. Sailing out on Mad Hatter we had 7-10 knots of wind out of the ESE. All of the boats were starting at the same time and even though Nanuq and Sting were technically in the PHRF-A class and we were in the PHRF-B/C class – we saw them as the boats to beat on corrected time.

We got into sequence and the race committee realized there was a mistake in the posted course so we postponed for a moment while they fixed it and went into sequence again. At the start we along with Nanuq, and Schiehallion were over early and all had to go back. This gave Sting a bit of a head start. The fleet could largely lay the first mark and the leg to the second mark was more upwind. We went right and inshore with Sting while Nanuq went left and out in to the bay. When we all came back together Sting was ahead and Nanuq just behind. By the time we got out into the bay the wind was much lighter and were were going just 3-4 knots. At that mark we turned and put up a chute and had a pretty straight shot past the mark we started with and then onto the finish. We wouldn’t have to gibe. Nanuq with the longer waterline and an asymmetrical sail was able to get ahead of us, but wouldn’t make up her time on correction. Wendas who was well behind us on the course would end up correcting over us by around a minute to win the B/C fleet.

I was pit and floater for the day, helping with tactics, monitoring the radio, trimming the guy and moving around to keep weight in the right spot. I also brought a couple cameras with me and got some footage aboard.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | RESULTS | VIDEO

Cartopping with a Diesel Jetta Wagen

Over the years I’ve had a wide variety of methods for transporting Lasers around.  Everything from 2x4s on the roof of a van to aluminum trailers specifically built to lasers to a giant van the laser went inside of. I’m back to cartopping a Laser and my new vehicle is a 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SUV.  Back when I had a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen – I learned what worked pretty well for cartopping and here’s what I’ve recreated for the Volkswagen Atlas.

Volkswagen Atlas with ILCA atop
Volkswagen Atlas with ILCA atop

Thule Bars, end Caps

Thule roof bars with pads
Thule roof bars with pads

These hold the boat – I like to get bars longer than the boat is wide to make it easy to tie the boat down and leave room for the spars out the side. The 78″ ones are more than enough and I could likely cut them down if I wanted a little less likely of catching something. 78″ is exactly the width of the Atlas from the edges of each side view mirror. The end caps don’t do much other than make it cleaner. Good quality pads are needed to protect the boat. I’ve got 2 20″ Dorsal pads on each bar. Thule makes 18″ ones and there are a variety of alternatives. These also have the effect of cutting down on wind noise when a boat is not present.

What I have on the Atlas:

It seems that since I originally set this up in 2019 that Thule is no longer selling the longer version of the Load Bars (LB78 or LB65). Look for alternatives of an appropriate length.

Thule Feet

Thule rack feet shown without lock cylinders
Thule rack feet shown without lock cylinders – not a tight fit and worries me they won’t hold on the road.

These will be a bit more specific to the vehicle. For both of my vehicles that had a roof rack that ran fore/aft these universal feet were able to grip around them. Note they also must match the roof bars, so if you get different bars, be sure to get the feet that match. These feet have a rubber coated metal strap that goes underneath the bar to secure it. The end cap has a built-in allen wrench used for tightening them. The end caps themselves seem a little loose without the lock cylinders so a set of those is necessary and to ensure the rack doesn’t disappear. Tip: if you think you would use other Thule products, buy extra lock cylinders so they are identically keyed or visit a vendor in the future who will sell matching cylinders. (If buying the paddle holders – go for the 8 or 10 pack so everything keys the same)

Paddle Holders

These paddle holders are great for transporting spars – they are big enough to go around 3 spars at a time – lower, upper and boom. With the Jetta when I traveled with the Radial lower I just put it in the car. With the Atlas I wanted the ability to travel with the Radial lower and a spare upper, so that’s why I have the extra wide bars and got two sets of Paddle Holders. Note in the picture the inner set are backwards, I ended up having to turn these around so the tightening strap pulls away from the vehicle in both sets. The lock cylinders can also be put on these – the paddle holders will hold the spars securely without locking, the locks just prevent anything from disappearing.

ILCA Spars in the or and paddle carrier
ILCA Spars in the or and paddle carrier

Spars can be transported without a cover just fine – they just get a little buggy on long trips. I prefer to use the spar bag to keep them clean and make it easier to load and unload 1 thing instead of 3. Be sure to tuck in the extra material and handles to keep things from flapping.

ILCA spars inside a spar bag on the Thule rack
ILCA spars inside a spar bag on the Thule rack

Straps

There’s two ways I like to tie the boat down – two straps over the hull where the roof bars are. These are made rather tight and do 100% of the work of keeping the boat on the car. The forward one should be forward of the max beam of the boat so if the boat does slide forward, the strap is smaller than the beam and the boat can’t slide through it. These straps have rubber to protect the boat and easily cinch the strap tight. The loose end of the strap gets tucked into the cover on the underside.

The other straps I use attach to the bow eye and the rudder gudgeons. These are not intended to be super tight and do very little to keep the boat on the car. They are really just there for emergency use in case another strap fails or the rack itself fails – this will keep the boat with the car – and limit damage to the boat, car or anyone else. I don’t like making this tight so that it doesn’t ‘bend’ the boat over the car nor put a lot of stress on the bow eye or gudgeons for long periods of time while the boat is racked. Thule makes a set of quick ties that use a ratchet system with some hooks to easily attach and tighten them. It comes with some webbing straps – I attach these to the boat before putting the covers on and slip them out the holes in the cover before putting the boat on the roof so they can be easily hooked to.

Tips:

  • Thule and other sell Aero bars – but these are sold to a width matching the roof bars and cannot extend much beyond that – making them less suitable for the Laser with the spars on the side. They would work boat only. And it’s not possible to just buy a wider bar than compatible for the vehicle, they won’t fit – I tried.
  • Thule LoadBar is different than the SquareBar and the LoadBar appears to be a product they are starting to do away with.
  • Put the spars on the driver side so when making a quick stop to check things, it doesn’t require walking all the way around the car.
  • Yakima has a line of roof bars that are also widely used.
Atlas with the Laser and a bike rack

Bike Rack

Another accessory I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of is a bike rack. Great for taking a bike along when rigging or camping just a little away from the clubhouse and a great way to get around when parking is tight.

MORE PICTURES

Jess and I have been fond of taking a winter ‘thaw out’ trip ever since we went to Cancun back in 2019. We had obviously wanted to take this kind of trip the last two years, but the COVID-19 pandemic ruled that out. So we planned to go back to the same resort we visited in 2019, this time in February. The omicron variant kept us from pulling the trigger in February and we were finally able to go in March.

We left on St. Patrick’s day, the trip to Cancun was relatively uneventful until we got into the immigration line to get into Cancun. There were lines everywhere overflowing out of the hall and once we eventually figured out where one ended, it took about 50 minutes to wait through it and be admitted. Next stop was to find our van which took a little looking and once we found the company the needed to call another van that would have enough gas to get us to our destination.

Spa Pool
Spa Pool

Finally at the resort (TRS Yucatan) we checked in and went to our room, sat on the porch and I did some walking. It wasn’t long before dinner and we went to the steak place for dinner before retrieving some margaritas from the bar and retiring to the hot tub on the porch of our room for the night.

Friday was our spa day. We got a couples massage followed by some time relaxing at the spa pool. It’s one of our favorite pools because its a quiet zone and great for relaxing and reading. We left the spa for lunch and came back to continue relaxing around the pool and enjoying the hydrotherapy area. We tried to get a picture of us, but the teenagers in the pool didn’t know how to operate the point-and-shoot camera we had with us.

Jon & Jess outside of Helios at the infinity pool
Jon & Jess outside of Helios at the infinity pool

Saturday was our beach day. I started with a run in the morning and staked out a bed while Jess hit up a yoga session. We hung around the beach bed until mid afternoon leaving only to find some fish tacos in one of the family resort areas of the resort nearby. We went for a dip in the ocean at one point. On the walk back to our room we explored the other pools and found the ‘secret’ one. We spent the later part of the evening at the pool next to our building and then went to the Italian restaurant for dinner and had some gluten free pizza.

TRS Beach Bed
TRS Beach Bed

Sunday started with some Yoga and after breakfast we found a bed at the pool by our building. We found tacos for lunch and hung around until the late afternoon when it really became sweltering there and retreated to the air conditioning in the room. In the evening we went to the french restaurant and brought our own bottle of wine. We took the ‘train’ to the other resorts on the property to check out a few of the other bars before returning for the night.

Monday evening dinner at Poseidon restaurant.
Monday evening dinner at Poseidon restaurant.

Monday was our last day of paradise that started with breakfast followed by COVID tests in order to be let back into the US. We hung out at the White Sands pool and the swim up bar for a bit before heading back to the infinity pool for tacos and a bed we found. We had a great dinner on the beach, packed our bags and enjoyed the room hot tub one last time.

Jon & Jess in the TRS Yucatan infinity pool
Jon & Jess in the infinity pool

Tuesday was our day to travel back. Our van was late and ran into traffic (a construction strike outside the airport) and were even later getting to the airport. That wouldn’t be a problem as our inbound plane wasn’t able to get to us due to storms where it was coming from. We would miss our connection and require a longer layover at IAD and a late flight back to Richmond, but at least we were able to get upgraded to first class on both flights.

All in all it was a great trip and nice to be away from the usual and enjoy some sun.

PICTURES

Here are my favorite photos from 2021:

ILCA Sail on a day out for practice in May
ILCA Sail on a day out for practice in May
Portland Head Light during our trip to Maine
Portland Head Light during our trip to Maine
ILCA on the lot at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club during ILCA Nationals
ILCA on the lot at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club during ILCA Nationals
A serene sunset scene on a dock at a friends house in Hampton VA
A serene sunset scene on a dock at a friends house in Hampton VA
Flying Scots sailing downwind at the FBYC 82nd Annual One Design Regatta
Flying Scots sailing downwind at the FBYC 82nd Annual One Design Regatta
ILCA on the starting line at FBYC's 82nd Annual One Design Regatta
ILCA on the starting line at FBYC’s 82nd Annual One Design Regatta
Port tack ILCA on the starting line during the 82nd Annual One Design Regatta at FBYC
Port tack ILCA on the starting line during the 82nd Annual One Design Regatta at FBYC
Sunset from our resort in Maui
Sunset from our resort in Maui
Sunset from our resort in Maui
Sunset from our resort in Maui
Sailing downwind at the 40th Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship
Sailing downwind at the 40th Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship
Cholla Cactus in Joshua Tree National Park
Cholla Cactus in Joshua Tree National Park

See past years here.

Jon and Jess with the Strange Bird Snipe
Jon and Jess with the Strange Bird Snipe

Our adventure with the Strange Bird Snipe came to and end 5 years to the day it started in 2016. The bird flew to North Carolina to be with a new owner and hopefully be sailing on Kerr Lake in 2022. Refurbishing the bird was a fun project over the years and Jess and I had some fun sailing it together at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. Hopefully the bird will see a little more use with a new owner!

Here’s a look at the boat over the years.

PICTURES

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I won two tickets from my company to their box at UVA’s John Paul Jones Arena to see the game between UVA and LeHigh University. Jess and I made a day of it starting out with some cider shopping at Albemarle Ciderworks and Potters Craft Cider to try out some new varieties and stock up for winter.

Outside of Potters Craft Cider
Outside of Potters Craft Cider

Our next stop was Mincer’s to pick up some UVA attire followed by a quick visit to The Lawn.

Jon & Jess checking out The Lawn.
Jon & Jess checking out The Lawn.

Finally we arrived at the game (showed our COVID vacination cards to get in) and found our seats in the box. It was a great view and there was an entertainment area. It was also great to see some co-workers I had either never met in person or hadn’t seen in person for quite some time.

Jon with co-workers at the game
Jon with co-workers at the game

UVA won and Cavman even stopped by the box.

Jess, Cavman, Jon
Jess, Cavman, Jon

PICTURES

We got to visit Palm Springs California with my family to celebrate and anniversary and meet my niece for the first time. Despite some travel delays getting there we had a great time catching up with my sister and her family who live on the west coast and enjoying all being around a big house with a pool we could hang out in.

Some of us took a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park and did the long drive from one end of the park to the other through the valley and stopping to visit various sights along the way.

Jon & Jess in front of the Joshua Tree National Park sign
Jon & Jess in front of the Joshua Tree National Park sign
Jon, Jess, Stan, Pat at the Cholla Gardens in Joshua Tree National Park.
Jon, Jess, Stan, Pat at the Cholla Gardens in Joshua Tree National Park.

Some of us visited a spa while others checked out the sights in the town.

We had a great weekend catching up and celebrating!

PICTURES

Saturday was FBYC’s Closing Day Regatta – this is usually the traditional end of the season weekend with big boats sailing a pursuit race on Saturday followed by oysters. Then we sail ILCA on Sunday in our final race of the day. With a low pressure off the coast, there is forecast wind all weekend. We ultimately canceled the ILCA regatta for Sunday though it wasn’t enough to cancel the offshore race.

Looking upwind as we sail to the finish

I was sailing with Mike Toms on his J105 Purple Wahoos. Aboard with us were a number of Mike’s friends from college and one other sailor we picked up on the dock. Being a pursuit race and being the 2nd fasted boat by rating, we had a late starting time and didn’t leave the dock until after the rest of the fleet. The race had already been postponed 30 minutes due to wanting to set a new course that would keep us a little more protected in the Piankatank. In the open water of the bay the wind was gusting over 30. Where we ended up sailing we had some gusts into the 20’s but was mostly in the mid to high teens for most of the race. The wind was out of the NNE.

We hit our starting time on a broad reach as we sailed south and then west up the Piankatank. We slowly caught up to boats ahead like GOIN and Morningtide. As we got to the turn around spot up the river the wind was predictably lighter and this is where we encountered most of the rest of the fleet. We eventually got around Mad Hatter and Sting.

The fleet behind us in the Piankatank

As we approached Fishing Bay we slowed a bit to put a reef into the main sail knowing this was the last opportunity we’d have to do this before sailing into more wind and the last leg was going to be relatively upwind. I had done main for most of the race and swapped with Mike and drove the bit of the race after needing a break from all of the sheet adjustments on the main to keep the right heel and speed.

On the final beat we were in 4th with Shenanigan just ahead of us and Corryvrekan and Sting just behind us. We were slowly able to pick off Shenanigan, but Corryvreckan came from behind to finish ahead of us leaving us in 4th overall.

Red dotted line showing the track we took.
Red dotted line showing the track we took.

Given the wind and conditions it was great being on the water and we made the most of what we had. It was a fun way to end the season followed by an Oyster Roast at the club.

PICTURES | RESULTS