Laser Sailing

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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2019 FBYC Laser Training

FBYC was doing a Race Committee training day which made it a great opportunity for Jess and me to get out in Lasers with the rest of the fleet to do some starting practice and very short course racing.

PICTURES/VIDEO

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2019 FBYC Laser Spring Regatta

We had what was probably the best day we could have asked for on a opening day of the one design season at FBYC. It was warm, partly sunny, good wind and the rain held off until we were done sailing. I was joined by 5 Lasers in what started out as light wind around 5-8 and through the course of 5 races built to about 15. I was talked out of wearing hiking pants thinking it wasn’t going to be hiking conditions and boy was I wrong.  And I’m still sore as I write this 3 days later.

Finn, one of the junior radial sailors was out with us and I loaned him a Standard sail to sail with so we could all be in the same fleet.  Despite being 40 pounds lighter than I am – he was quite competitive even for his first time sailing a Standard.

The first two races started with the boat heavily favored. In the first race I followed Finn around the first two legs, but was able to split upwind and find more wind and better shifts and got ahead and was able to hold that to the finish. In the second race, Finn and I both sailed out to the left side of the course and ended up past the layline and all I could do was follow him in to the mark. He was able to slip away down wind and I was never able to mount much of a challenge the rest of the race.

In the 3rd race Mike Toms joined us and made it more of a 3 way battle at the front. We stayed close most of the race and in the 2nd upwind I was able to get just enough ahead of them to finish 1st. By the 4th race the wind started to come up a bit and was definitely hiking conditions with some white caps. I followed Mike and Finn around the course, but was able to get inside of them on the final downwind mark rounding. Finn capsized on the 2nd downwind rounding allowing Mike to slip around him into 3rd.

In the final race the wind was up to at least 15 and the course was shortened to 2 laps. At the start both Mike and Finn started to leeward of me and I was able to cover them and push them out to the left side of the course past the layline. From there I just held my lead and didn’t make any mistakes to win the race and win the day.  I was great to see how much tighter the racing got with each race – by the last race all of us finished within a minute of each other and any slip would have meant going to the back of the pack.  Kudos to Trip, Dave and Britt who got much faster all day long.

All in all it was an awesome day of sailing and a great way to kick off the racing season at FBYC. Huge thanks to Glenn and Becca for heading up the RC for the day as well as to all of the folks who volunteer to help for the day.

RESULTS

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2019 April Laser Practice

My first time sailing the laser for the year was on the last weekend in April and I had a nice sail into stiff wind out of the south at 16-20. I did some exploring and sailed 1h 45m upwind through Hills Bay to Queens Creek. I got to check out Jess’ parents place from the water.  The trip back broad reaching only took 40 minutes.

PICTURES

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2018 FBYC Laser Frostbite Regatta

My last Laser regatta of the year was the Frostbite Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. It was a perfect fall day with wind and water temperatures in the low 60’s, plenty of sun and wind 8-13. We had a fleet of 14 boat sailing to winds out of the ENE in Fishing Bay. I had some mediocre starts making it tough to get a good lane early in the first beat often leaving me mid-fleet at the first rounding. Downwind there would sometimes be some puffs to be had on either side, but this was a pretty good fleet downwind and with the lighter air their weren’t many passing lanes. Upwind I could usually pick up a boat or two and get myself back into the top 5 most races.

Paul Almany had his drone up and got some good video of the last two races.  My pictures are here as well as the results. Thanks to Jerry & Henry Latell and Bob Fleck for doing race committee and Frank Murphy for the after race chili.

PICTURES | RESULTS | DRONE VIDEO

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2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship: Sunday

Power returned to Fishing Bay Yacht Club for the 2nd day of the Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship around 9am just before we were set to launch. We had enough wind to sail in, but it was light.  It built a bit and we got a race started. Halfway through the race it started to die and we did some floating. There was enough to finish with only the last couple boats being TLE. We were in by noon, had some lasagna and left overs from last night and gave out awards. A 17th in today’s race let me drop a 21 and finish 11th overall and 4th Apprentice Master.

Congrats to Rob Hallawell on his win overall.  This regatta could not have happened without Rick Kline, all of the RC, Alain and his chefs, Bryan, Eric, Bob F, Mayo and everyone who helped get the club ready. And it was great seeing all of my Laser sailing friends who come back year after year and thanks for putting up with some inconveniences this year.

FINAL RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship: Saturday

It was the first day of racing at the 2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship and we had 51 boat arrive including several who arrived late at night last night. With all of the preparations already made we went through the morning routine and it almost unnoticeable that we didn’t have power.

On the water we found the wind built to a few knots more than forecasted.  In the first race I was a little late for the start and had to go upwind in dirty air rounding the first mark below mid-fleet.  By the second upwind leg on the modified windward-leeward course I was able to pick some shifts and get within striking distance of the lead group and finished 9th.

At the start of the 2nd race the wind had shifted favoring the port end of the line and I was one of only 2 boats down there set to cross the fleet on port just seconds after the start. Unfortunately for me there was one boat to duck while I was on port and I took my eye off him for a second and managed to tag his transom. Two turns later there were only 3 boats behind me at the windward mark. I sailed well to pick off some boats and finished up in 15th.

For the 3rd race I had a great start in the middle of the course and held my lane well upwind.  I was in the top 5 around the windward mark and used some of the downwind knowledge I learned in the previous race to get around a couple boats to round the leeward mark in 3rd. Upwind I held my position and extended on the boats behind while Gavin and Rob extended a little on me, but I was able to come back a bit on them downwind with all of us rounding nose to tail. Upwind on the final beat to the finish I split with the two of them and managed to just get my nose in ahead of Gavin at the finish for a 2nd place.

By the 4th race of the day the wind was at the peak in the upper teens – this would be a triangle windward-leeward course. The wind was also shifty and while I was beating I got a puff and wind sheer that knocked me over before I knew what was happening. I was deep again in this race and managed to pull myself back up to 21.

In the 5th race I had a good start and was able to sail with the lead pack the entire way around the course sailing my way to a 7th. Overall it was a fun day of sailing. We were fortunite not to have any light air where we were guessing where the wind was coming from. Not only did I have good boat speed upwind, I had much better boat speed downwind and felt like I picked up on the improvements I had made last month in Annapolis. When I didn’t hit boats, didn’t tip over and started on time – I did pretty well – I should do more of that!

Saturday evening back at the club we had a wonderful dinner prepared by Alain and his helpers.  We fed 93 people – under lights powered by generators with power cords snaked all over the club.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for lighter wind.

DAY 1 RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship: Friday

It’s a been a week of preparing for the 2018 Laser Masters Championship at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. Everything from building trophies, pre-cooking breakfast, ordering food to buying all of the other supplies was coming together.  Also coming this week was the remnants of hurricane Michael which roared through on Thursday evening. Friday morning I woke up to hear that FBYC was among the hundreds of thousands of customers in Virginia without power and the prospect of getting power before the end of the weekend was slim.

Calling around to our club manager, flag officers and others who are familiar with the systems at FBYC I figured out the following: The club had hosted an event without power after a hurricane in the past and had an electrician wire a place to plug in a generator. The water system had it’s own generator. And 4 J/70s had been knocked over in the dry sail lot. The water system was the only thing that could necessitate cancelling the regatta – it would be unsafe to have that many people at the club without proper sanitation. With the knowledge that we had that solved, I knew once on site we could use some ingenuity to solve the rest of our needs for electricity. I owned a small generator and I borrowed a bigger one from my parents and got on the road to Deltaville by noon.

Once I arrived at the club I found things as expected. I got one of the generators plugged into the refrigerators in the kitchen and worked on other preparations. Mayo Tabb – a member with extensive electrical systems experience came by a short time later and had a way to plug into the club generator outlet that was sized for a very big generator into a more standard household generator. This would enable us to power only 1/3 of the club including the refrigerators and range hood that we would need to cook on the gas stove top. Bob Fleck also brought by a bigger generator and by late afternoon Mayo had scavenged all of the parts to wire everything safely. We used the smaller generator to use the air pumps to inflate the marks and to wire it into the boat lift to get the mark boat lowered into the water.

While this was going on I communicating with the sailors who were driving in from as far away as Michigan, Colorado and Toronto. They knew our facilities would be limited through the weekend without power – few lights at night, no hot water in the showers and that we’d have to conserve water. 1/3 of the fleet was camping out anyway, so lack of power wasn’t going to be much of a concern. It also helped that all of the businesses in Deltaville had power, so at least folks could purchase what they needed. One way or another it was going to make it a memorable weekend and they were all in for the ride. Not a single sailor canceled or didn’t show.

Huge thanks to the club staff Bryan and Eric as well as Bob and Mayo who spent their afternoon Friday helping get things wired together.  And thanks to the fleet members Alain, Charlie, Britt, Frank, Mike, Ron and others for help pulling together the other details to make us ready.

PICTURES

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2018 Crab Claw Regatta: Sunday

Day 2 of the District 11 Championship and Crab Claw Regatta at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis started with light drizzle that would continue through out the day.  At least that kept the power boaters away.  The wind was in the mid-teens a little east of where it was yesterday and the temperatures just warm enough to wear summer attire plus a spray jacket.

I did a lot better in today’s races – generally staying close enough to the lead group to nip at their heels. Sailing upwind was tough with the rain – telltales were unusable because they stuck to the sail requiring me to sail only by feel. On port tack the waves were a little more square on making it a challenge of picking when to point and pound through the waves, or go low and foot through the waves at a better angle.

Downwind the waves were awesome – very little of the slop that we had yesterday and typically see in that sailing area (A) in Annapolis. I managed to catch the waves and S-turn in a way that I never have before.  Almost every downwind I made up 10-15 boat lengths on the boats around me – I’m usually the one loosing a few boat lengths down wind.

That was good enough for me to finish 12th and stay in the top half of the fleet.  Big thanks to Scott and Dorian for organizing the regatta, Steven for the place at to stay and to PRO Steve and everyone else on the RC who ran the races!

RESULTS | PICTURES

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2018 Crab Claw Regatta: Saturday

The first day of the Laser District 11 Championship and Crab Claw Regatta at Severn Sailing Association started with nice weather and winds in the upper teens out of the north. Despite the wind direction the temperatures will still warm enough for summer sailing attire, may just a spray top for some.

I got off to a rough start racing – I was taking it a little easy in the stronger winds, in part due to an emergency room visit earlier in the week,  to keep the stitches in my head dry and getting more comfortable not re-injuring my wrist. I also hadn’t figured out the right boat settings for the wind, and I was just plain tired. Note to self – don’t do these things again.  So that led me to to not be totally aware of the course on a downwind leg and to confuse where the leeward marks were with the separate finish and I ended up rounding the gate the wrong way.  I certainly wasn’t the only one, but I’d need to take a DNF.  That wasn’t my only trouble, I also deathrolled downwind.

By the 2nd race the wind eased a little bit – still in the mid-teens.  I had a great start and worked my way to the left getting almost to the layline.  Once there I tacked and proceeded to botch it and not get under the boom and flipped over.  When I came up, I reset the boat and I must have done something right because I was suddenly wicked fast.  Like somehow fast enough to catch a boat that is normally as fast or faster than I am from 8 lengths behind and to roll over over them.  I was back up with the lead group just behind them.  Downwind I played it conservative to keep the boat upright and on the 2nd upwind I picked the wrong side and didn’t play the shifts well and would end up 13th.

For the 3rd race the wind eased enough to be squarely in the 12-14 range that I am very fast in.  I had a good start and sailed with the leaders the whole race. I was a pinch slow downwind, but felt more comfortable in the boat and had more confidence in my wrist.

The 4th race was 11-13 and I did more of the same – this time getting as high as the top 4 or 5 at some marks. I actually start getting comfortable surfing the waves and actually had good speed downwind.   I would end up 7th.

The final race was a disaster again. The wind eased off to around 10 with lulls around 8 and the larger chop was still bouncing around making it tough to power over or through them. I had a good start, but didn’t keep my lane clear and got rolled – then I missed some shifts to put myself in the middle of the fleet. A deathroll and later fouling a boat to do turns meant I was racing for last and finished 20th.

All in all it was great to be out racing, the RC ran great races and folks like Mike and Scott were having great days.  After racing I took a van-nap and we had a crab picking feast.  I’m in 13th.

RESULTS | PICTURES

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