I was able to make 2 of the 3 days of Southern Bay Race Week at Hampton Yacht Club sailing aboard Excitation – a Farr-Dickerson 37 from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We went out to light winds on Saturday and sailed on the north side of the James just west of the Hampton River. There were so many crab pots in this area the RC had trouble finding places to anchor. We spent the entire day of racing dodging these.

On the starting line near Tradition.
On the starting line near Tradition.

The wind started light, we kept the boat powered up and going fast. We were the longest, heaviest and tallest boat in our fleet and in these light winds we could point higher and sail faster and this was quite an advantage at the start allowing us to start almost any where we wanted. We tended to take conservative starts and wound up being a few seconds late, but this kept us out of traffic and enabled us to pick a lane and easily sail through any boats around us.

With so many other fleets on the course not only did we have crab pots to look out for, but we also had traffic from other legs of the fleet – either the tail end of the fleet ahead or other fleets around the course. With the spinnaker in particular this made it hard to work on our speed since we were always adjusting our course. The first two races went well and

Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.
Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.

As the wind built in the 3rd and 4th race we switched to smaller sails. We struggled a little bit in the 3rd race of the day and redeemed ourselves in the final race and finished 1-1-3-1 for the day.

We enjoyed a great crew dinner Saturday night and I crashed on the boat the club.

Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.
Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.

On Sunday we had more wind for 2 more races and thankfully a clearer sailing area. The increased wind made it harder for us to de-power while being right in the sweet spot for a few other boats and we didn’t enjoy the speed advantage that we did the day prior. We were also without our bowman and with one fewer crew member meant I was going forward more often to help out. It was still a good day of sailing and we went easy with the spinnaker keeping our gybes down. We finished 2-5 on Sunday and ended up 2 points out of 2nd place.

All in all a great weekend and thanks to Mayo for having me along! Great sailing sailing with the crew and a fun weekend.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS

J99 Battle Rhythm at Bert Jabin's Yard in Annapolis.
J99 Battle Rhythm at Bert Jabin’s Yard in Annapolis.

For the delivery of Battle Rhythm to Deltaville we had some unfavorable weather for our original plan yesterday which allowed me to jump on the race committee for the Down the Bay Race start. After another night in Annapolis we had an early start on Saturday. Battle Rhythm is a 32′ J99 sailboat #94 and was docked at Bert Jabins near Annapolis.

Battle Rhythm under spinnaker.
Battle Rhythm under spinnaker.

Once we were off the dock and into the Chesapeake Bay, we did a quick instrument calibration and then headed south around Tolly and Thomas Points. We started with good wind on the beam and with just 4 of us onboard we got the spinnaker up and were seeing 7.5 to 9 knots under spinnaker. Eventually the wind eased and we dropped the spinnaker and motor sailed again. When we were close to the mouth of the Patomac early in afternoon the wind again built and we raised the spinnaker again.

Eventually the wind dropped off to almost nothing and moved forward so as the sun was setting we struck all the sails and just motored the rest of the way to Deltaville. We arrived just after 9pm with a total trip time of 13 hours and just over 8.5 hours of motoring.

PICTURES

On the signal boat for the start of the Down The Bay Race
On the signal boat for the start of the Down The Bay Race

I am in Annapolis with some time to spare before helping with a boat delivery tomorrow so I was able to join the Race Committee for the start of the Down The Bay Race. There were at one point 38 boats signed up, but given the windy and potentially storm conditions of this afternoon – a large number of boats dropped out with only 14 making it to the start. We started out in the bay just outiside of Annapolis at a mark known as R2. Visibility was only a couple miles and the wind was 12-16 out of the south. We rolled through the starts and got the boats going and I took a few photos.

Start of the first two PHRF fleets in the Down The Bay Race.
Start of the first two PHRF fleets.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES

Sunday was the distance race day for Fishing Bay Yacht Clubs Offshore Spring Invitational. We started in the mouth of the Piankatank just east of Stove Point with light winds 6-8 knots. We would have a downwind start with all of the fleets starting at the same time. We were a little late to the start, but this was a conservative approach to allow us to pick our spot and stay clear of the other boats.

Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.
Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.

Once we had our spinnaker up and were clear of other boats we made our way east into the bay. We thought we were going to a mark further out into the bay, but as we passed another mark along the way boats ahead started rounding it. We quickly realized our error in what we thought the course was and adjusted our course to follow the other boats without really loosing any distance. I mostly trimmed spinnaker and eventually started training Ryan to stand in for me. Late in the leg I drove while Mayo worked on navigating. We had to sail a really tight angle with the spinnaker up while the asymmetrical boats were barreling down on us from behind with pressure. We just didn’t want to have to drop to a head sail only to need the spinnaker right back up for the next leg.

Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.
Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.

As we reached the 2nd mark, we had a well executed gybe around it and headed north dead downwind to get to the 3rd mark. Many other boats mostly with asymmetrical spinnakers tried to play the angles and we just we went more downwind on the rhumb line for just under 2 miles. We ended up sailing inside of Nanuq and had a nice lead coming into the mark. When we got there we didn’t want to do an extra gybe so we executed a windward takedown which nobody on this boat had ever done before aside from me and Chris who had done it on other boats. We did it early in case it went badly and it went so well we were under powered sailing wing on wing for the final minute into the mark.

Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.
Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.

By the time we rounded the northern most mark the wind had gone down to 7-8 knots and we elected to go to the light #1. As we sailed upwind back to the finish we would find ourselves significantly overpowered with this sail up. About 2/3 of the way to the finish the soft shackle holding the jib sheet to the sail let go, so we came to a stop and quickly fixed that and got going again. Now with the wind in the upper teens and hitting 20 we really wanted to get a smaller sail up so we tried to do a sail change on a tack, but had problems using the second headsail track and ended up having to do a bare-headed sail change. These two maneuvers allowed Nanuq to sail right by us and we ended up finishing 2nd a little over 2 minutes behind them on corrected time.

All in all it was a great weekend of sailing. We sailed well, we got better at the roles we had, we tried some new moves and didn’t break anything that costs $$. This was a great tune up for Southern Bay Race Week coming up in two weeks.

RESULTS | PICTURES

Saturday was the first day of a two day Spring Invitational for Offshore boats at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. The format was to do buoy racing on Saturday and have a government mark distance race on Sunday. The weather was light but otherwise perfect for an early season day of racing aboard Excitation – Mayo’s Farr/Dickerson 37.

Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts.
Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts

1st race good start at the boat. Nanuq was over early and had to go back. We did a hitch to the right to put some space between the other boats and continued up the middle of the course. We were first around the mark, had a good set and stayed ahead of the fleet downwind. We had another good upwind and held off Nanuq and Corryvreckan (who both owed us time) to win the race on the course and on corrected time. I was the floater on board helping with navigation/tactics and trimming the spinnaker.

Spinnaker trimming
Spinnaker trimming

In the second race the wind built a little bit, but still within the range of the light #1 we were using. We were a little late at the start and as a result had to do a few more tacks after the start to either clear our air or avoid starboard tackers. At the top mark we rounded 4th behind Nanuq, Corryvreckan and Sting. Despite a problem with the lazy spinnaker sheet, we still had a pretty good set. Downwind we made up some ground on Nanuq and sailed deep and passed Corryvreckan and Sting. Upwind we favored the right side of the course out of the current and switched down to the ‘heavy’ #1 as the wind continued to build – now in the 8-10 knot range. We held our position and worked on narrowing the gap with Nanuq – but at the finish we wouldn’t be able to make up our time and finished 2nd.

Sailing downwind on Excitation.
Sailing downwind on Excitation.

By the 3rd race the wind picked up and we were seeing winds in the mid-teens. We made the decision to switch to the #3 and just as we went to raise it as the starting sequence was initiated – the sail partial came out of the track while it was being hoisted. It came out in such a way that we were either going to damage it, or we would have to disassemble part of the track to get it back. Given those choices and the fact that we were in the starting sequence – there was no way we were going to disassemble it without damaging it and make the start and so we decided to retire. Disappointing not to sail the 3rd race as we were in contention to win the day with a good result. We’ll be back for the distance race tomorrow.

RESULTS | PICTURES

For FBYC’s One Design Spring Series #2 I was invited to sail on John Hubbard’s Melges 15. This was only the second time the fleet has raced at FBYC and is a new fleet at the club this year. By summer there should be at least a dozen boats at the club once deliveries are made.

We had a 4-boat fleet along with Mandalorian (Rob & Reed), Osprey (Paul & Josh) and Big Z (Mark, Georgia and Noah) and light winds out of the east. The course was set in Fishing Bay with the weather mark due west of the end of Stove Point point and the course to the west of that. John and I did some practice before the start. Working through tacks and putting the spinnaker up for some gibes. I was really impressed with the space on this boat and the simplicity of the systems and ease of which they are used. Having been on so many other boats of this size – it really stood out how simple this boat was. It was also very stable – one person walking onto the boat didn’t make it unstable, but two people hiking certainty mattered for weight placement. As a crew, even in light air, when I’d be sitting opposite the helm or siting in the middle of the boat, it still left me places to crouch or sit without being on top of something uncomfortable. The rigid boom vang mounted above the boom that pushes down also clears up a ton of space for the crew to sit forward without constantly ducking a vang line.

Boats duck behind at a Melges 15 start
Just after a start

In the first race, we were a few seconds late to the line and didn’t exactly pick a great line upwind. We rounded the first mark behind Osprey and Mandalorian. Downwind we sailed low and fast and closed the gap a bit. When we got to the leeward mark we were just close enough to have an inside overlap on both boats and rounded ahead to go upwind. On this leg we went right thinking we’d have more pressure and Mandalorian went left and got a better lift rounding well ahead of us. We again had great speed downwind and caught up to Mandalorian but ran out of runway finishing 1/2 a boat length behind them.

FBYC Melges 15 Race 1 finish just behind Mandalorian
Race 1 finish just behind Mandalorian

In the second race we were again a little late at the pin end of the line and tried to get right, but boats were there and we had to do a few tacks to clear ourselves. Mandalorian sailed a great race and was clear ahead followed by Osbrey. Downwind we were able to catch and pass Osprey, but couldn’t catch Mandalorian who rounded the leeward mark and started going going upwind. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Mandalorian – it was only a 1 lap race and we were the first boat over the finish. Mandalorian corrected himself and finished behind Osprey.

Race 2 finish
Race 2 finish

In the 3rd race we had a great start at the boat. We worked our way up the middle of the course picking our way through the Flying Scot fleet coming downwind. We even started to improve our boat handling and roll tacking the boat. We were just behind Osprey and Big Z at the top mark. We were able to sail lower and put a gybe in taking us back toward the middle of the river and gybed back coming in on starboard and inside at the leeward making Big Z gybe away and round behind us. Upwind we played a loose cover and were able stay ahead to finish first.

Last leg of the 3rd race leading downwind.
Last leg of the 3rd race leading downwind.

In the 4th race we had another good start at the boat with the other two remaining boats (Osprey and Big Z) starting at the pin. We again played the shifts in the middle and were able to round the first mark in 1st with Osprey just behind us. Upwind we stayed close and we reached the mark first, but had some trouble with the set and Osprey sailed high and right around us. We tried to gybe for better air but Osprey ended up with more pressure and stayed well ahead leaving us with a 2nd.

It was really fun to get to try sailing a Melges 15. Huge thanks to John for having me aboard and thanks to Mike, Rick, Clark and Frank for RC today.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PICTURES | RESULTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | RESULTS | VIDEO