Laser Sailing

2019 Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship

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.

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Jon rounding the leeward mark in race 1. Photo by Paul Almany

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.

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Start 2 by Paul Almany

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.

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Jon, Susan and Jess between races. Photo by Paul Almany

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.

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Alain, Jon, Mike and Scott. Photo by Paul Almany

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.

Race 4 start. Photo by Jess Hardin

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.

Race 5 start. Photo by Jess Hardin

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.

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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.

RESULTS | Jon/Jess Photos | Paul Almany Photos

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2019 FBYC Laser Fall Regatta

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.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2019 Crab Claw Regatta: Saturday

Severn Sailing Association hosted the Crab Claw Regatta and 2019 Laser District 11 Championship Regatta.  It just so happened that East Carolina’s football team was playing at Navy this afternoon so I figured out how to do both.

The skies were overcast with temperatures in the high 70’s and the wind out of the North at 11-13.  I sailed the first two races in some lumpy seas making it critical to keep the boat flat to go fast upwind.  There were some shifts to hit as well.  Downwind it took a while to figure out how to catch the waves – by the 4th time I went downwind finally started to figure it out just before I headed in.

The fleet did 2 more races while I headed in to attend the ECU vs Navy football game.

I’m in 20th after day one and hope to improve once I can drop 1 of my DNS’s.

PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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2019 FBYC Laser Summer Regatta II

FBYC’s Laser Summer Regatta 2 had a great crowd out in some fantastic wind for one of the last race days of the Summer. With winds into the mid-teens and some anchor problems with Mr Roberts delaying our start for an hour we had some attrition in the fleet bringing us down to 10 boats that ended up racing all 4 races.

In all 4 races today, I had great starts usually just a couple boat-lengths down from the boat. I focused on accelerating off the line and keeping a hole for myself and holding my lane before worrying about settings.

With the course in the middle of the Pianakatank just North of the channel and inside Stove point and the wind out of the NNE it was a bit shifty and it was relatively flat given the wind speed. Generally, the left side had better shifts most legs upwind. Often I would head out there sometimes overstanding, but always with James just ahead or behind.  Alain, Mike and Greg also had some good upwind legs as well and were usually within striking distance even though it became a 2-boat race between me and James.

The one race left didn’t work was the 3rd race. By this time James had won the first two races and I finished 2nd in both. I was trailing him by a few boat lengths and he rounded and went to the left. When I came around I found myself to be in a header with a lot more wind on the right while James was in a hole.  I went right and played the shifts putting myself ahead of James at the windward mark by a few both lengths and was able to hold that to the finish.

Even though James I did a lot of dueling – he had great speed upwind making him hard to pass.  Downwind he had another gear I didn’t have – he was playing the angles in the puffs and had great acceleration. My more dead-down approach lost me a few lengths on each leg.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day of racing.  I was a great tune-up for the Laser District Championship in Annapolis coming up in a few weeks.  Thanks to George Burke for bringing out a novice RC team and doing a fantastic job running races.  Congrats to James, Mike, Josh and everyone on a well-sailed regatta.

PICTURES

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2019 FBYC 80th Annual One Design Regatta: Sunday

A little more wind today made it more of my conditions and despite a bad start in the first race I was able to get to the right of the fleet and found pressure to get back ahead. Dave had to compete with his son which allowed me to stay ahead and win the 1st race.

In the 2nd race Dave beat me to the first mark, but I stayed close on the downwind. I was able to get into a position with right away and Dave capsized in his effort to stay clear and I sailed on to win the race.

In the 3rd race Dave tried to port tack the start and I just stayed clear of that, but made sure to give Mike, just to leeward of me, all the room he needed to close the door on Dave at the pin. Mike and I went to the left, got clear and stayed ahead for the rest of the race. Trip had a great race and picked off Mike to finish 2nd while I finished 1st.

In the 4th race I had a poor start and was back in the fleet and had to push hard around the course to make up a few boats and get back to 2nd. Dave was clear ahead and I settled for 2nd.

Going into the final race of the regatta the wind was starting to get light and I knew I was either tied or 1 point behind Dave in the standings. With no drops I’d need to beat him to win the regatta. I ended up taking a bit of a flier out to one side. Dave smartly covered me, the rest of the fleet passed us and he put some boats between us to safely finish ahead of me and win the regatta.

Thanks to Bob Fleck our PRO for the day and his crew who made the best racing they could with the winds we had. Dave, Mike, Trip, Brad and Alain were great to sail with and we all had some fun competition.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 FBYC 80th Annual One Design Regatta: Saturday

Lasers out on the racecourse

We started FBYC’s 80th Annual One Design Regatta with light winds and a 10-boat Laser fleet. We were set up in the middle of the Piankatank and had some current diagonal to the course that made going downwind a little tough. Upwind being generally to the left and definitely in more pressure helped a bunch. We were on the course with San Juan 21’s and staying clear of them was important too.

Dave was just fast all the way around the course and got 3 bullets on the day. Any time I let him get away and didn’t catch my own great shift – he usually just pulled away. Alain had some good racing – especially the 3rd race where he went left and was first to the new pressure and came across the top of all of us. Brad also had a good day and was near the top most races. I finished 3rd in 4 of the 5 races and 2nd in the other to be sitting in 2nd.

Bob Fleck on the RC boat calling finishes

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Sunday

Sunday, the final day at the Laser North American Championship greeted us with a light west wind. We weren’t sure it was going to hold, but it was enough to race in and so we went out and did. With the lighter winds I had better starts, was able to focus on my boat speed and actually play tactics upwind.  I was a little out of phase and a little deeper than I wanted on the first leg, but made up some spots on the succeeding legs and finished 23rd.

In the 2nd race of the day and what would be our final race of the regatta – we had a little less consistent wind across the course.  I thought I had a good start, but quickly got rolled and had to tack out.  As I made my way to the right side I caught some great pressure and tacked on a few shifts to find myself lined up with the leaders about halfway up the beat on the right side.  Alas – I kept going right and they went left and while I did great over the people on the right, it was the left that won out. I made a couple moves on the reach and downwind, but it got pretty light on the downwind.  Upwind I started as far left as I could in the light air figuring the tide might help me get there if it really goes out.  This was great as the wind filed from the left and I passed a few boats, but made the mistake of going to the right for the top 1/3 of the course and left some more spots on the table.  Downwind and on the reach I was able to stay ahead of a pack of 5-6 boats and finished 19th.

After 11 races – this was a fantastic event.  Thanks to Eric and his family for the place to stay. The volunteers at BBYC did a great job running races, feeding us and keeping everything organized. I’ll definitely be back for more BBYC regattas.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Saturday

On Saturday at the Laser North American Championship temperatures had soared and neared 100 degrees with high humidity. There was no wind when it was time to leave and so we were postponed ashore for an hour and a half. Even when we did get out there wasn’t enough wind to sail and we were postponed on the water for another  45 minutes.

And then the wind came. At first it was about 8 knots when we started the first race.  I had a beautiful start and punched out for a while until the fast guys caught up and overtook me. As I tried to keep clear lanes of wind I got out of phase and ended up on the wrong side of the course on the right. Boats on the left got more pressure and a lefty to the mark.  On the next few legs I did ok and was probably deep 20’s, but at the final jibe mark I got pinwheeled with some 4.7s and a bunch of Lasers and lost a couple spots for a 35th.

By the 2nd race the wind had picked up to 13-15. I had a terrible start, tried to tack out, mis-judged the dip/cross and tapped the back corner of a starboard tacker and had to do turns putting me well behind the fleet upwind. I was able to pick off a few boats on each leg and pulled myself up to a 28th.

By the 3rd race it was even windier with gusts into the upper teens – this was a range where I was just hanging on to make the boat go and not really able to work the boat or be too strategic. I was clearly a bit tired on the downwinds and I got the tipsies and flipped a few times trailing almost the entire rest of the fleet. I was happy to finish rather than take a DNS, but it was some tough slogging.

After racing I did a nice run on the beach then got take out chicken wings and had dinner with some sailors.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Friday

Day 2 of the Laser North American Championship at Brant Beach Yacht Club started with a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind to fill in and the fog to lift.  By 11:30 the fog and the postponement had lifted and we were headed out to the racecourse with the Radial fleet doing the first start to catch up and get their 3rd race in.

In the first race with the wind at 8-10 I won the boat, albeit I was half length late to the line. I stayed in clear air up the beat and even played some shifts finding myself in the top 20 at the top mark. The rest of the way around the course I ceded some boats and finished 23rd.

The second race saw the wind up another knot or two – now at a range that required some depowering. I had a good start in the middle of the line and held my lane for a while, but eventually got squeezed off and sucked out the back.  I never really felt like I got the boat going upwind and was probably bottom 5 around the top mark. I was able to claw back a few boats downwind and reaching finishing 35th.

In the 3rd race I started midway down the line, but was a little late so I immediately tacked out to the right to find clear air.  I played the shifts much more so than I had in previous races and was a little more comfortable with the boat moving through the waves and little higher winds.  At the top mark I found myself mid-fleet and I was able to actually work the boat through the waves to catch up on boats ahead of me downwind and reaching and rode that to a 21st place finished pulling me up to 28th overall before a drop was factored in.

One fun observation today was how much better the masters sailors were on the reach. There’s a technique to it that I just don’t think the younger sailors have seen since it’s not often we sail on courses with reaching legs.

Post-sailing I did another 4-mile run, got dinner with sailors at the club and caught up with some of the junior parents from FBYC.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 2 RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Thursday

Today was the first day of the Laser North American Championship at Branch Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.  BBYC has a great beach and facility and does a great job running big Laser regattas and I enjoy coming back.  I was hear last year for 2018 US Masters Nationals and I sailed the 2011 North American Championship here too.

There are 3 fleets here – about 18 boats in the smallest rig the 4.7, 80 in the mid-size Radial rig and I’m in the 40-boat Standard Rig fleet.  This is a VERY competitive fleet. Only 15 of the sailors are ‘masters’ – over 35- years old and many of them are in high school and are here with coaches and spend the summer going to various regattas and training. There are quite a few sailors from Canada and even a few that made the trip from Ecuador, Barbados, Puerto Rico and a few others.

After checking in this morning and getting my sail inspected and the usual skippers meeting they took us out to the middle of the bay – an easy 30-min reach from the club in the ~12 knots of breeze out of the south under mostly sunny skies with just some small waves. After some practice and a 20-minute postponement we were ready for the first race.

The first race was a clean start for the fleet – I was near the boat and had a fantastic start right on the line and in clear air. My boat speed up the first leg wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped for.  The wind at 12-14 with some higher gusts meant hiking most of the time.  On the reach and runs I was able to hold my own.  Near the end on the run I flipped and lost a few boats although I was able to pick a couple back up on the reach as I started to improve my speed there.

I had forgotten about the seaweed here – last year it was mostly a non-issue and today I had to remember my weed clearing techniques.

For the second race the wind picked up another couple knots out of the same direction and we now had consistent white caps.  I had another fantastic start near the boat and like the last race I was right under Leo – the 2nd place boat – who had no trouble driving over me (pictured above).  I don’t think I improved my speed upwind, but I was able to sail a little more consistently and not slow down for adjustments.

On the reaches I started to get the boat moving relative to the folks around me and I was consistently able to pick off a few boats reaching. I helped that we were finishing with the 4.7s and when they reached, they sailed high and some of the Standards went with them, and I was able to sail the rhumb line keeping the boat planing and making up more distance. This ended up as my best race – with about a dozen boats behind me.  Yes – it’s the kind of race where I’m counting how many boats are behind me – ie 12 boats behind means I finished mid to high 20’s.

In the 3rd race we had another knot of wind – I had a terrible start at the boat where I got trapped behind it in irons while the fleet sailed away and so I started well behind everyone. I still managed to not be last at the windward mark and did pick off a few more boats.  Another downwind capsize gave away some spots, but at least I was getting more comfortable in the higher winds.

As soon as we crossed the finish line there were storms to the North West of us and they sent us in for the day.

All in all it wasn’t a terrible day of sailing – I finished about how I expected given how little Laser sailing I had done this year and the fact that I weigh 8-10 pounds less than I did a year ago when I sailed here. I think that lead to the capsizes – where I’m used to throwing my weight over to keep the boat flat, only I don’t have as much to throw and underestimated the effort needed to avoid a capsize.

After sailing I beached the boat and quickly got into my running clothes to do a 4-mile run around the neighborhood before the storm came through. Eventually the storm rolled through just as we were heading over to the club for dinner.  It was great catching up with some friends and sailors I haven’t seen for a few year and sharing stories of regattas past.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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