For the 4th and final day at the ILCA US Masters the forecast was for less wind, but it started out in the 11-13 range out of the south. This sent the waves directly into the break wall where they ricocheted back into the sailing area making for really lumpy seas.

In the first of two planned races I had a good start at boat, near Gord and Roman. From there I got bounced around upwind trying to stay in clear air. Upwind and downwind I just never felt like I had the moving right boat moving and settled for 14th.

Upwind sailing while adjusting the vang.
Upwind sailing while adjusting the vang.

Second race I started closer to the pin and went left. Wasn’t as fast as the guys on the right who caught some shifts and was mid-teens at the top mark. Downwind I played the middle and held my position. The wind continued to ease as the race went on and was down to 6 or so. On the second upwind I went middle left and lost a spot or two mostly to people who went way right. Then for the long downwind I went left again hoping to get into pressure sooner. It looked great early on, but towards the bottom of the course the angle was better for those on the right and we all ended up about where we were when we rounded the prior mark. On the final beat to the finish I went way left again. Peter was just a bit ahead of me and we sailed in great pressure while the guys who went right initially had no pressure and I passed about 5 boats to finish in 9th.

Ken, Adam, Jon, Peter, David, Monica, Craig, Gord, James, Mark & Jacques
Ken, Adam, Jon, Peter, David, Monica, Craig, Gord, James, Mark & Jacques

This event apparently has an award – the Tony Dahlman award for the mid-fleet finisher. That was me, and I ended up coming home with the biggest award given.

Thanks again to Max, Henry and all of the folks at Hampton Yacht Club for hosting the event! Great job!

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

Rigged and ready Saturday morning.
Rigged and ready Saturday morning.

Expected a little relief from the wind on Day 3 of the ILCA US Masters National Championship, but ended up getting the same upper teens we had yesterday. Today’s races did not include reaching legs and were all 3 laps that included one extra long downwind leg and 4 upwind legs.

Race 1 start at the pin
Race 1 start at the pin

In race 1 I had a good start down by the pin and went most of the way out to the left. Coming back I was 4th around the top mark. Downwind was slow – the waves and current made it hard to find the right angle. Those who figured it out went flying and I was passed on both downwind legs. By the bottom of the 3rd downwind I started to figure it out and everyone was gone. Settled for an 11th finish.

4th at the first top mark.
4th at the first top mark.

In the 2nd race the wind seemed to pick up just a little – steady 14-16 with gusts to 20. We had one general recall with the current pushing us up the course before a good start under the U-flag. I hung out at the boat, pulled the trigger late after other boats cleared out and had a clean start. I went out to the right and just felt tired going up wind and wasn’t really pushing. I was around 10th at the first rounding. Downwind I started to figure out the waves and actually passed a boat. We did another lap in largely the same positions, only this time when we got to the leeward gate the 8 or so boats ahead just went passed it as if they were doing the final lap to the finish. I quickly conferred with Don next to me and rounded the gate and went upwind. I was the first to do so, Don was just behind me as was Mark and Gord. By the top mark Gord was ahead and I was able to pinch off Don, Mark and Matthew to round in second. Two of them got by me downwind and Mathew got me upwind and I settled for 5th. Of the 8 or so boats who sailed past – 4 of them took NSC (Not Sailed Course) while the other 4 turned back upwind, but were back in the pack.

Boat end start under U-flag. The boat was pointed into the current and away from the wind.
Boat end start under U-flag. The boat was pointed into the current and away from the wind.

In the 3rd race we had another general recall then a UFD start. I had a fantastic start at the boat and went right. That was not the place to be and on top of that I flubbed a tack, didn’t get under the boom and flipped. I was dead last at the first weather mark. Downwind I got the boat going and riding waves and picked up 4-5 spots. Had a few more good legs, but couldn’t really catch the front pack ahead of me and had the back pack right on my heels. Then on the long downwind I lost it and death rolled. I only lost one spot on that maneuver and was able to pick it back up on the final upwind to the finish in 11th.

After racing we hung out at the club and had drinks on the patio and caught up with folks who dropped by. When the scores were posted there were quite a few folks who got OCS/UFD/NSC and shuffled the positions – particularly by folks who got 2 of those today or had an OCS earlier in the regatta and weren’t able to drop a 26.

EVENT WEBSITE | DAY 3 RESULTS | PICTURES

The fleet sailing upwind (after the general recall)
The fleet sailing upwind (after the general recall)

Day 2 at the ILCA US Masters at Hampton Yacht Club and we had only a little less wind than yesterday and 3 races planned. When we got out to the course for a 1000 start we had 14-15 knots and slack current. The wind was also a little more right of where it was yesterday and a little less protected meaning we’d have more wave action.

Race 1 start
Race 1 start

In the first start I was a little slow off the line and boats around me pulled ahead and eventually tacked out. Once clear I went back left and felt like the left side of the course had a little less waves than out on the right. That wouldn’t matter when a nice shift came my way allowing me to lay the mark and round in 6th just behind the leaders. We sailed two laps before reaching down to the bottom mark. All along the way I focused on not making mistakes and keeping the boat going. I was successful there even though I slowly ceded some positions and settled for a 12th. It was nice to be sailing in the pack around the course.

By the second race the current had begun to push us up the course resulting in a general recalled start followed by a start under the U flag. I hung out at the boat end for the start which cleared out seconds before the gun allowing me to come in with speed and have a great start. This time I played the middle right of the course picking shifts and rounded around 5th at the top mark. The wind had eased a bit for that first leg and then picked up for the rest of the race. I stayed in the lead pack and slowly lost some boats mostly on the downwind legs and settled for an 11th.

First weather mark rounding in race 2.
First weather mark rounding in race 2.

In the final race of the day the wind was still up and a bit steadier. I was in the middle of the line and in traffic and after a couple minutes had a clear lane to tack into and get out to the right. I had good speed and made up some distance on the leaders and rounded around 5th. Downwind I continued to play it conservatively and gave up a couple boats though the fleet was much more tightly packed and the leaders weren’t far behind. Upwind I picked some shifts and again passed a couple boats enabling me to cross just behind the 4-5 boats in the middle of the beat. By the final top mark rounding some of the boats that went more left had a more favorable shift and I was back in 7th. On the first reach I held my own, but on the second reach, which wasn’t very wide – Mathew, Luke and Don all stayed on starboard by the lee and made up a ton of distance from behind me. Matthew and Luke both got around me and Don was right behind me. The bottom of the course was a little less sheltered and had more waves. I played the middle left on the final beat to weather. Really felt like I had the boat moving through the waves. Caught and passed Luke while Matthew just got me at the line for an 8th place finish.

I saw a big difference in how I was sailing in the last race from the first race. I started to get comfortable making the boat go upwind and was able to pay more attention to whats ahead of me and looking for shifts and staying in clear air. A tighter hiking strap later in the day helped me more easily keep the boat flat and powering through the waves.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS AFTER DAY 2 | PICTURES

ILCA ready to go at Hampton Yacht Club
ILCA ready to go at Hampton Yacht Club

Day 1 at the ILCA US Masters Championship at Hampton Yacht Club called for wind and we got it. After sailing in light air all summer, I wasn’t too ready for winds in the upper teens gusting into the low 20’s. After the early morning drive to Hampton, unloading and the competitor’s meeting the plan was for 2 races for the 21-boat ILCA7 fleet and 12 boat ILCA6 fleets.

Windy racing
Windy racing

The course was set just south east of the entrance to the Hampton River and was to be a long race with reaching legs. The starts were a little tricky – the RC was running a 3-minute horn sequence that was difficult to hear over the flapping sails and the only visual signal was the P-flag that was up for exactly 1 minute. I had a pretty good start in the first race a bit down the line. With only 21 boats out there, we had plenty of room and as the fleet spread out upwind I was able to get to the right. I came into the top mark right in the tail end of the pack. Downwind felt good, I had the boat moving in the waves and closed the gap on some boats ahead. In the second upwind it became clear there were more shifts to catch and some boats gained and others didn’t. From there we reached out to the wing and to a mark way below the course before another long beat back to the finished. All race I stayed engaged with the tail end of the pack and finished 12th.

Fleet sailing downwind.
Fleet sailing downwind.

In the 2nd race the wind had picked up a little more. I missed the starting horn, but was close enough to the line that when I saw the pack of boats lining up, I was able find a spot and be ready. Unfortunately, 20 seconds before the gun the universal joint connecting the tiller to the extension snapped. I limped over the line so that I’d start in the time limit and then sat for about 3-4 minutes while I got a spare fitting out of my life jacket and set to screwing out the old on and in the new. By the time I was going I was way behind the 7 fleet and just ahead of the 6 fleet and did my best to get upwind and catch some boats.

Downwind I was starting to catch up to the tail-enders and I started cramping up. In trying to not cramp, my reflexes weren’t as sharp and I eventually death rolled and went swimming. From there I just sailed conservatively and eventually was able to reel in a couple boats. I finished 16th – way better than a DNF.

For those wondering how I replaced a tiller extension universal on the water – for years I’ve sailed with a Forespar Carbon Fiber Tiller extension that has a screw in universal joint. I make sure it’s not too tight so I can easily unscrew it with a small pair of pliers in my life jacket or my teeth if I have to. I keep an extra universal joint in my life jacket that comes in handy every couple years on a starting line like today and definitely saves a day of sailing instead of having to go in to fix it. There’s also the base fitting to retrofit most tillers.

EVENT WEBSITE | DAY 1 RESULTS | PICTURES

On day 2 of the Mid Atlantic ILCA Championship at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club there was no sign of any wind at 9am so we postponed ashore for an hour and a half. Most of the fleet sat around telling stories and talking about various mostly masters sailing topics. When it became clear the wind was filling and AP was going to be lifted, the discussion was taken to the floor where everyone started stretching and discussing the best way to keep various body parts limber for light air sailing.

Waiting for wind on the sailing center patio.
Waiting for wind on the sailing center patio.

Out on the race course we had a little more wind than yesterday and the wind was a little East of North putting the windward leg of the course just west of the Lafayette River channel. I knew we’d have funny current again and I even studied the depth chart last night. We started the first race in 6 knots of wind and I managed to go the wrong way at every opportunity. Even when I did manage to pass someone, I still went the wrong way again and finished dead last.

The fleet ahead sailing downwind.
The fleet ahead sailing downwind.

In the 2nd race of the day, having gone the wrong way at every opportunity, I knew doing the exact opposite had to to be somewhat better. I had a second row start at the boat at the start, but I immediately tacked out and banged the right corner while most of the rest of the fleet preferred the middle left of the course. Not only did that get me out of the current that was dead on the nose up the course on port tack, but also got me some great lifts approaching the weather mark. I was launched and easily 20-30 boat lengths ahead of the fleet. This was a 3 lap race and for the rest of the race I favored the right and continued a loose cover on the guys behind me and took the bullet.

In the 3rd race, the fleet was on to me and my tactics, and there was no way I was getting away out to the right again. I had plenty of company and spent most of the race in a pack of boats 4-5-6. At one point I rounded inside and ahead of the pack of boats at a leeward mark, only to miss some shifts and get passed downwind to finish 6th.

Sailing downwind in the 2nd race of the day.
Sailing downwind in the 2nd race of the day.

The wind had continued to build and by the 4th race of the day we were seeing double digit speeds and were able to sit out and occasionally even do some hiking in the puffs. With more wind, the right side of the course and playing the current wasn’t so critical, and there were some lifts to catch in the middle of the course. Alex, Dave and Adam all played the middle left, while I came in from the right on the first beat and I followed them around the course in 4th for the first 2 laps. On the final beat I again banged the right while they all raced each other to the left. At this point we knew this was to be the last race and they were close on points, I was not going to get a top 3 finish no matter how we did. As we came into that top mark, I ended up about 8 boat lengths ahead of Dave and Alex. Downwind they both caught some power boat waves and surfed down to me. I protected the inside and made Dave go just far enough around me at the gate before the finish that I was able to just barely beat him over the line and take the gun.

Today’s racing felt a lot better than yesterdays and it was great winning a couple races which vaulted me up to fourth overall.

Scott, Britt, Mike M, Mike C, Craig, Jon, Dave, & Alex at the awards.
Scott, Britt, Mike M, Mike C, Craig, Jon, Dave, & Alex at the awards.

Thanks again to Duffy and everyone at NYCC for putting on a well-run event and making the most of the wind we had. It was a fun and competitive fleet and looking forward to the next event in Hampton in two week.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

ILCA Sailing near the Port of Norfolk
ILCA Sailing near the Port of Norfolk

Today was all going to plan until I got 2/3 of the way to Norfolk this morning and realized I didn’t pack my blade/line bag. I drove most of the way back to Richmond where Jess met me along 64 with the bag. I arrived at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club after the skippers meeting and just as the boats were starting to launch. 25 minutes later I was rigged and ready to launch and didn’t miss any sailing.

ILCA Between races during the NYCC Mid-Atlantic ILCA Championship
Between races

It was to be a very light air day. We sailed just out to where the Lafayette River meets the Elizabeth River with a NNW wind at 4-6 all day. There was little current when we started, but as the day went on it pushed us up course out the Elizabeth River and later pushed us across the course out of the Lafayette River.

I generally had good starts today, usually at the boat. Early in the day I favored the middle right of the course and later started banging the left corner as the current came across the course and helped fetch the mark along with lifts. Most of the day I was mid-fleet in our 9-boat fleet at the first weather mark.

The fleet ahead sailing downwind.

Downwind was very slow and difficult. Often the wind was going opposite the current and it was very hard to feel how the boat was going. Most races I lost boats downwind except for the last race where I went right downwind and went around everyone and rounded the leeward mark first. Alex would get me on the windward leg making my best finish a 2nd and a great way to end the day.

Sailing in light air last weekend definitely helped. What I wasn’t used to, was light-air sailing with traffic and I made a good number of mistakes around other boats and lost some places in the process. That includes some close finishes. I did a good job to not make many tactical mistakes and my boat speed was reasonable given the hunting-for-wind conditions.

On the tow in.
On the tow in

Following the 5th race of the day the wind completely shut off as some storms approached the area and we were towed in. After racing we hung out at the club sharing sailing stories over hot dogs and hamburgers.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

We had light air and 12 boats for FBYC’s ILCA Summer Regatta II. A course was set out in Fishing Bay with the weather mark just west of the end of Stove Point.

In the first race I had an ok start near the boat. In the 4-6 knots I just focused on going fast and picking shifts towards the middle left of the course. I came in at the weather mark with the lead pack including others who had been a little more middle and more right. Alain came in over all of us from way out on the right and was well ahead. Downwind I held my position and on the 2nd upwind I went more right, but still not as right as Alain and found myself in 4th behind Craig and Scott with Alain out front. On the final downwind to the finish it got really light and I went left with Craig and we managed to catch a little more pressure to get by Alain and Scott, but in the end Alain came back and I finished 3rd behind him and Craig.

RC on Mr. Roberts getting the fleet into sequence.
RC on Mr. Roberts getting the fleet into sequence.

The second race saw winds in the 4-5 knot range and further south of the ESE wind we had in the first race. Mike had a good start at the boat and shut me out so I was parked at the start in no wind behind the boat and was 20 seconds late. I worked my way middle right catching shifts and hunting for more pressure. As I came into the mark, Scott was way ahead and Chad just ahead and Craig got there at about the same time and ended up fouling me and had to spin. Downwind I went right and then the wind went way right making it more of a reach and by the time we got to the leeward mark I was right behind Chad. Upwind I went left towards shore while Chad played more of the right. The wind also backed making it a little more of an upwind again. Scott played the shifts in the middle. I was able to string some pressure together to pass Chad and held on to that to the finish 2nd behind Scott leaving us both tied with 5 points and him having the tiebreaker.

Following Chad and Scott downwind.
Following Chad and Scott downwind.

For the 3rd race the wind was very light again and we were ghosting along at the start. I saw more wind to the left so I did my best to start nearer the pin with a front row start so I could hopefully poke out and get to that wind first. That largely worked and I used the pressure to get right. Chris Rouzie also had a great first leg and was ahead of me at the rounding mark. The wind died and the race started to be a ghosting reach into the leeward mark. I got to weather of Chris and adjusted to the new reaching breaths of air a little faster and was able to roll him by 1/2 a boat length on the inside of the leeward mark. The RC shortened course there and with some rain in the area and little prospect of more wind we called it a day.

Downwind sailing
Downwind sailing

Wasn’t the day we hoped for, but we made the most of what we had and enjoyed some good competition in a 12-boat fleet on a short course. It really showed the importance of clear air and pressure and deciding when to chase the lifts vs when to chase more pressure. And when the pressure did change – shifting modes from sitting in with a little heal in the very light stuff back out to a flat boat in a little more pressure made a difference.

Thanks to the RC lead by Rick Klein for getting us a race in.

Scott, Jon and Craig
Scott, Jon and Craig

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

We managed to have a five boat ILCA fleet that came together at the last minute. We sailed in Godfrey Bay along with ten Melges 15, three Windmills, 7 Hampton One Designs and a few San Juan 21 and a international Canoe. 29 Flying Scots sailed their Atlantic Coast Championship on another course.

Melges 15 start of race 1.

Out on the race course we waited while 3 fleets started ahead of us and had wind in the low teens out of the North. It was pretty shifty and at the time of our start there was an almost 10 degree favor at the pin and Craig took advantage of that port tacking our fleet at the pin. Craig played the shifts well and stayed well enough ahead at the pin with me behind and Trip just behind me. On the 2nd upwind to the finish I was able to pick some shifts and catch up to Craig, but once we got out to the lay line there weren’t any passing lanes and I had to settle for finishing just behind him.

Looking back on the fleet as we come downwind in race 2.

For the second race, since there were 5 of us and 3 Windmills we were all started together. By now the wind had dropped a bit and was very shifty with some big holes. We watched the Melges 15s start ahead of us and some boats caught puffs and took off while others missed it entirely and bobbed around near the start. Some of the boats were quickly 1/3 of the leg ahead before even covering 1/2 of the leg. I watched where the wind was and where it was coming from at our start and i was able to string together some puffs to get launched. The Windmills all went way left while the ILCA fleet was all over. By the top mark I was 1/3 of a leg ahead and I just sailed conservatively – covering the fleet and giving up some ground, but also keeping myself between everyone else and the finish the rest of the way around. Trip finished behind me with Craig behind him.

The 3rd race still had some pretty big shifts, but without the massive holes of the prior race. Craig and I split a bit and he caught some better shifts and led by 10 boat lengths or so at the weather mark. I also had some Windmill rounding traffic to contend with. Downwind we got a 70 degree shift from the right turning it into a reach for just a couple of minutes. It got to me first and by the time Craig got it I was well ahead and then just played a loose cover on the upwind to finish 1st. Craig was second with Bill 3rd.

At the start of the 4th race Craig and I both went for the boat and Craig got between me and the boat and ended up fouling me and having to do turns. The wind had picked back up to where were comfortably hiking with some de-powering at times. I focused on picking shifts and was able to extend my lead and then did another loose cover on the fleet to hold my position. Craig finished 2nd followed by Trip. This race was also fun to see with the Windmills. They seemed to generally point higher and sail faster upwind. In the prior two races in lighter air they started with us and finished well ahead of us. In this race they started with us and I finished just a boat length behind their leader.

Jon, Jess, Tim, Karly

In the evening after racing Jess and I came to the part by boat and got to have dinner and see friends and hang out.

Floating around on Sunday without any wind.

Sunday’s forecast was for light air and it delivered. We ghosted out to the course on time hoping for it to fill and floated around for an hour and a half. By around 11 nothing had filled and the clouds burned off and it started to get hot. The fleet started making their way to shore and a short time later the RC agreed and abandoned for the day. Sad we didn’t get another day of racing and the wind eventually did fill, but by then we were on to awards.

Trip, Jon and Craig at the awards. Photo by Paul Almany.

Thanks to Mark and team running the event and Jim R and his team for running races on our course.

EVENT WEBSITE | 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

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