The first day of buoy racing for the Stingray Point Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club brought light air and a combined A1/A2 start consisting of 11 boats (5 with us in A1). This was the first time buoy racing for Battle Rhythm and there was a bit to be learned about making the boat go upwind. We also got a lot better at spinnaker work having a full crew and plenty of opportunities to put the sail up.
We had a very tough fleet with 3 of the boats being light sport boats that we seldom ever even saw on the race course except shortly after the start. We never even came close to correcting over them. Had we been sailing with most of the boats we normally sail with in the A2 fleet, we’d be closer to finishing mid-fleet.
Current at the mouth of the Piankatank definitely played a factor given how light the winds were. At one point they were so light during the second race that it was shortened to just one lap. By the 3rd race the wind started picking up, we had a good start and we even got to sit on the rail for a time.
Post racing there was a great party and band at the club and it was great catching up with folks from other boats and others who just came for the party.
Labor Day Weekend started with the Stingray Point Regatta Stingray Light Distance Race. This was effectively a warm up for the 2 days of buoy racing on Saturday and Sunday. Only 1 other boat in our A1 fleet had arrived and was there to race and we were started with the A2 and B fleet.
At the start the wind was pretty light. We worked our way upwind and out into the bay. There was some current around the mouth of the Rappahannock as we were sailing to weather heading North. Once we rounded the entrance to the Rappahannock we headed south again and were able to put up a spinnaker in the light air and catch up to the boats just ahead of us. It was a very tight reach and only because it was so light were we able to run the spinnaker almost like a code 0. GOIN’ was the only other boat with a spinnaker up and they were just ahead of us. As we approached – we couldn’t go above them or we couldn’t carry the chute. We couldn’t go below them because we wouldn’t lay the mark. Eventually that didn’t matter when a barge went by and messed up the wind for both of us requiring us to pull the chute to the deck and go upwind for less than a minute to fetch the mark.
Though our competition finished well ahead of us, it was a good day for only having 5 of us aboard the boat. Nice light day and we didn’t make any big mistakes and actually got to do some upwind sailing. More racing tomorrow and we’re going to get A LOT more light air practice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday was the Smith Point Race where we race from the mouth of the Piankatank about 25 miles north to the lighthouse at the southern side of where the Potomac flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The forecast wasn’t great and so the course was shortened taking us not quite as far north to the entrance of the Great Wicomico.
Out at the race course there was almost no wind at 11am so we were postponed a short while. Eventually enough filled and we were started in just a few knots as we made our way out of the Piankatank sailing upwind with the wind out of the ESE. As we went, most of other boats in PHRF-A, that all had overlapping sails, drifted ahead of us.
Once out of the Piankatank we headed north mostly under spinnaker and ghosted along past Windmill Point. Dennis drove the first part of this and I drove the later. Eventually, we were able to keep the chute flying better than the heavier boats and stayed inshore out of the current along the rhumb line and were able to get just ahead of the fleet at the turning mark as the wind started to pick up in the early evening.
Heading back home was close hauled on port tack. Holly drove most of this and did a good job sailing to some of upwind targets. We haven’t done a lot of upwind sailing on this boat, so we’re still working out the best angles and speeds and this leg gave us a good idea of what to expect. Still the larger boats that were just behind us and had more sail area were eventually able to run us down and waterline. We were happy in that it took them about 2 hours to do it just before sundown.
As we re-entered the Piankatank in the dark we were just a few minutes behind the other boats and weren’t able to correct over any of them leaving us in 5th place. It was still a fun day of racing and learned some new things about the boat. Namely how critical driving is to keeping a balanced sailplan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Mark and team running the event and Jim R and his team for running races on our course.
The Delta Dash was intended to be a bit of a middle distance race taking us out to the cut channel and down to Wolf Trap light covering roughly 40nm. The wind at 1pm when we were going to start was non-existent and so we postponed 40 minutes before the sea breeze filled they sent us on a much shorter 13nm course. We set out on the J99 Battle Rhythm with 3 other boats in our class – Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan.
The first leg was upwind with the fleet crossing tacks towards Stingray Point light before tacking away from the shallow water. It took us a little bit to get settled and get the sail trim the way we wanted and we found we had really good boat speed relative to the boats around us even if we weren’t quite pointing with them. Ron and Chauncey were trimming jib while Holly and Dennis managed the front of the boat. Len was in the pit with me on main and Todd driving.
We headed further south thinking the current was going to take us away from the mark. Turns out we had the current wrong and was actually taking us towards the mark causing us to overstand and allowing the fleet to sail inside us and ahead at the mark. Excitation was over 8 minutes ahead of us as we headed upwind for 2nm on the 2nd leg.
The last leg was a close reach back into the Piankatank – we set the spinnaker and slowly caught up to the boats ahead of us, but not nearly enough to catch them on corrected or on the course.
We learned some things – some new settings on the navigation system to help us identify laylines. We found better routing of the jib and spinnaker sheets through the blocks. We did a little more tinkering with the jib leads to improve the flow over the top of the sail. Thanks Todd for having us along and looking forward to the Smith Point race next month.
The third and final day of the ILCA Nationals at Brant Beach Yacht Club saw enough wind to sail us to the course only to postpone us once we got there. An hour later the sea breeze would fill in with 7-8 out of the south to enable us to go racing.
In the first race I won the boat and went hard right. As I was coming across for a while it looked like I was going to cross the entire fleet. While I was spectating I missed a shift and found myself getting passed on both sides and rounded mid-fleet. I hung around there for the rest of the race and finished mid 20’s.
By the second race we were sailing in about 10 knots in the same sea breeze direction. I had a good start again near the boat, but didn’t have the speed or the lead I did in the last one. I ended up towards the bottom of the fleet and struggled at times to keep the boat moving or change gears smoothly. At the bottom of the course we were often near the 4.7s and their parent boats and coach boats created a lot of wakes following them around which all seemed to converge on us as we sailed to the finish.
By the 3rd race the sea breeze was blowing in the mid teens. Enough to be depowering, but not enough to be overpowered with everything depowered. This time I started at the pin, I didn’t stay there long as most of the fleet went right and I went with them. I had reasonable speed upwind and rounded mid fleet. I continued to struggle on the reaches. Another finish in the high 20s and another day with a ton of sea weed.
I finished 32nd overall with all of my finishes between 23 and 34. It was good to be back in the boat at a big event, and also shows what happens when I race without a lot of practice beforehand.
Day 2 at the ILCA US Nationals at Brant beach and we postponed ashore for an hour and a half until the wind started to come in. Out on the course we had lightish air – 6 or 7 knots. The RC tried to get a couple starts, but ultimately needed to reset the course again for where the wind settled in. Some rain-looking clouds came over just before the start, but didn’t drop anything. There were storms in the region but far enough away not to impact our racing.
First race didn’t have a good start and was quickly shot out the back. Sailed in dirty air upwind most of the leg and had about a dozen boats still behind me. Downwind I tried not to lose too many spots and picked up a couple spots on the 2nd upwind. On the reach to the bottom mark before the finish I was leeward boat and was fouled by a boat to weather and his mainsheet ended up taking my weather vane off and I had to sail the rest of the day with out it. I protested the boat on the water and after we got in. I ended up winning the protest and the other boat was thrown out of that race.
Second start went even worse than the first, I hit some waves just as I was about to go for the start and my vang fell out. I fixed it in a few seconds, but by then I was too late to be in the front row and ended up tacking behind everyone and got very far right in mostly clear air. I rounded mid fleet and did my usual lose boats on the downwind and pick up a few upwind and still managed to lose a few on the reach and finished mid-30s.
The wind continued to pick up and the 3rd race was in closer to 15-17 knots of breeze. I had an OK start and rounded the first mark just below mid-fleet. The wind eased as the race went on. I went right on the second upwind and picked up a few spots for another finish in the low 30’s.