Friday was day one at the ILCA National Championship at Brant Beach Yacht Club and we found ourselves with more wind than was forecast which is always welcome. Being out of the SSE it was windy enough to be hiking yet fully powered up, if not a little overpowered without having to de-power or feature to keep the boat up.
I was sailing in the 49 boat ILCA 7 class in only my 3rd day in the boat this year – and it showed. I stunk up the first race and just never got comfortable in the maneuvers. It didn’t help that I was also sailing with a brand new sail. The last time I did that was 6 years ago and lets just say I’ve forgotten how to tune a sail that isn’t blown out.
Eventually by the second race I figured out how to point and go fast again upwind despite being slow on the reaches. For most of the races I focused on starting in clear air and generally being on the right side of the course. Some times I was more successful at this than others. I tried not to make any big mistakes. Seaweed would be an issue all day. We weren’t sailing fast enough to keep it from clumping on the blades.
Late in the day the current started to come down the course and started favoring the left upwind. I finished very consistently around 30th. Two more days to go.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Lew and his team for running our races and congrats to Walker on a well sailed race.
FBYC’s Cut Channel race is unique in that the sailors get to decide which route to take around a pre-defined course choosing either ot go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The course goes out of the Piankatank across the bay to the cut channel, up or down it depending on the direction and then finishing back in the mouth of the Piankatank. With a southerly wind we though we could hold the spinnaker on two of the 3 main legs and that would make up for the time on the remaining short leg going upwind.
We had a good start just to leeward of Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan. Excitation chose the same clockwise route that we did while Afterthought, Corryvreckan and Chilcoot took the counter clockwise route. Once clear of the line we all hoisted spinnakers. Unfortunate, we put 5′ tear in the foot of ours which would need to be repaired on a subsequent leg.
The trip across the bay was uneventful and we settled in under spinnaker. We saw winds into the upper teens at times and it came back to the mid-teens closer to the other side. As we approached the turning mark to go upwind we made sure to take the chute down on the opposite side so we could put it back up more easily on a later leg.
While on the upwind Todd and Barb worked down below on repairing the spinnaker while everyone else was on the rail going upwind. We started with a reef in and were making good speed upwind. The wind eased and we eventually shook the reef. I steered for the last 2/3 of the 6.8nm upwind leg. While we were also going upwind we passed the boats going downwind who were doing the counterclockwise course. It was pretty clear by then and started to sink in that there was no way we were going to make up the time on the remaining leg. Excitation was near us and wound up crossing tacks with them and they later rounded ahead of us.
After we rounded the southern mark we headed back to the mouth of the Piankatank under spinnaker. We were going good until we saw something suspicious with the main halyard and wanted to check on it so we proceeded to take the spinnaker and the main down to do so. We were able to re-hoist both and continued on finishing some 20 minutes after the leaders.
All in all was a fun day and learned some things about this course and the boat we’ll bring back for next time.
We got out for another day of practice on the J99 Battle Rhythm. This time Jess came along and this time we also had gusts into the low 30’s. We had 8 aboard and we went out into the mouth of the Piankatank and tested out our reef setup. We weren’t super happy with the fittings for the 2nd reef, so we sailed for a little bit under main only and ultimately headed in so we didn’t break anything. It was still good to see how things setup so we can make adjustments for when we really needed it. We did get to pull the jib out for a few minutes when we got into the lee of the land. We also got to see some porpoises and skates. Jess had a good time and enjoyed getting out on a big boat for the first time in a couple years.
After threats of rain all week for this evening and even an afternoon shower a few hours before race time we ended up with beautiful weather and windy conditions for FBYC’s 2022 Moonlight Race. I was sailing with Mike S, Hunter, Clark and Mike T aboard his J105 Moo Hoos. The course would send us out into the bay, north the the mouth of the Rappahannock and then back into the Piankatank near Stove Point. There would be 2 starts with us as one of the 6 boats in the PHRF fleet and 3 in the cruising fleet.
We had arguably the best start of the fleet with a couple boats boxed out at the boat, we hit the line right on time a boat length down from the boat end. Unfortunately, Afterthought, a J109 able to point much higher then our shoal draft 105, was below us and forced us to tack away and in doing so we had to quickly duck Mad Hatter. That didn’t end up being too bad of a move as we got a nice lift and 1/2 mile later when we converged on the weather mark we were just ahead of Mad Hatter and just behind Afterthought.
From there it was another mostly upwind starboard tack as we headed out of the Piankatank and into the bay. Afterthought was overpowered and went for a headsail change while we were able to slip by them. When we got to the next mark we could see the current was ripping up the bay so we elected to tack and go south to stay out of the current before heading east to the next mark. While that was generally a good move, we took it too far and vastly over stood allowing several boats to ‘cut the corner’ so to speak and round ahead of us. All of this upwind sailing was in winds in the upper teens. We had a class jib up and a full main and worked to feather the main and steer between the waves while keeping the boat flat. Sitting on the rail we got drenched a couple times when we hit some of the larger waves.
By the time we hit the far mark the sunlight that remained was gone and it would be a reach for several miles up into the mouth of the Rappahannock. We could see ahead that none of the boats were flying a spinnaker – we thought pretty hard about it but the wind was just a little too far forward to flying it in the dark. We still made quite a bit of ground up and could see both Red Sky and Mad Hatter on the next upwind leg and were just about crossing tacks with them. By the time we passed Stingray Point Light and rounded the last mark back into the Piankatank we were just ahead of Red Sky and just behind Mad Hatter. We were able roll Mad Hatter and by the finish we were able to get our time on Afterthought, but not on most of the rest of the fleet.
It was a fun race followed by ice cream and rum. Thanks Mike for having me along and to Tom R, Blackwell, Randy and Brad for being our race committee.
Went out for some practice this afternoon on the J99 Battle Rhythm at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We started by working on some instrument calibration and then put the sails up and went upwind and out into the bay. The wind built as we went so we also practiced with a reef in and tried some different controls to de-power the boat when we needed it in the 12-14 knots of wind. Eventually it was time to come back and with just 4 of us on board we were able to effectively put up and fly the spinnaker as the wind built to as much as 15. It was a fun ride and looking forward to some racing later this summer.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.