16 years I’ve run the Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship and this one – like many before – will be like non-other. We’ve had hurricanes, Nor’easters, Power Outages, exceptionally high tides just to name some of the challenges we’ve faced at this regatta and all have made it an interesting and well remembered event. This year it’s COVID and we’ve had to make some modifications to the off the water activities to social distance. We’re all thankful our hobby is singlehanded sailing which enables us to continue to participate while remaining socially distanced.
It was a cool, rainy and blustery day at the club as we prepared for 45 Laser Masters. Nobody arrived early or was looking to go a practice. A number of sailors did pitch their tents and set up a fire pit for the weekend. This front should start to clear this evening, leaving us with winds in the low teens for much of Saturday. Sunday is less certain. Regardless of what we get, it’s fun to be sailing and seeing sailors again even if from a distance.
The drizzle was a blessing in disguise. It wet the tell tails causing them to stick to the sail all day long. Having not sailed the boat and being out of practice – I didn’t have a good feel for the boat and not having tell tales forced me to feel the boat and not rely on them.
The fleet we had was fantastic – everyone sailed well and was fun to sail with. The fleet was deep too – with a lot of passing in the top 10 in any given race. Evan H was great in his return to the Laser. Dave W was consistently just a little faster and always in the right spot on the critical first beat.
Several sailors from Severn Sailing Association made the trip and made a mini weekend out of it staying in town tonight and driving back to Annapolis in the morning. All of them are returning next weekend for the 39th Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters.
Bob F ran a great RC, the length of the line challenged us and he made adjustments as teh wind shifted a bit and got lighter. Clark and Jen were on point in the Parker.
The forecast looked a little bleak for FBYC’s Laser Summer Regatta in August, but the wind did come in and we had a great fleet to sail with. We sailed 5 races in about 8-10 most of the day.
Luke sailed really well and was consistently fast and in front. David H was also always in the right spot on the course able to just pull away anytime he was with some traffic. Rob also had a great day and was followed by me and Britt.
The starting line most of the day was very long for such a short course making it pretty critical to start at the favored end which happened to be the pin. This also led to some over early boats and eventually we started under the Z-flag. Britt did well to buck this and went right when everyone else was going left and managed to catch the shifts and round with the top group most races. I tried this in one of the last races and was too far behind to catch up.
This year Jess and I sailed lasers in the FBYC One Design Division Long Distance Race. All of the smaller boats <24′ waterline sail using the Portsmouth handicap system in a race that covers a total of 7-8 miles in the Piankatank River.
We had a variety of boats in the fleet from Lasers, Radials, Flying Scots, a Weta and a few J70’s. The 70s would be fast and the off-angle sailing under asymmetrical spinnakers would really give them a chance to pull away.
The start set the boats off on port tack eastward down the river. The rest of the fleet all came barging in on port tack at the pin and I did a starboard dip line start and forced all of them to give me room and Nostalgia had to circle around and restart. The J70 Billy Buff started just behind me and I was able to pinch them off and slow them down before they eventually went under and around me.
The wind held at a steady 9-11 knots out of the north east. The course took us towards Gywnn’s island, around #8 and then towards the entrance to Jackson creek. It then doubled back and then went ~3 miles west up the river and then back to Godfrey Bay.
I kept up best I could with the Flying Scots and stayed ahead of the Weta while the J/70’s sailed pretty far into the distance.
Following racing as we were packing up the boat the scorer walked by and let me know that after the handicaps were computed, I tied for 3rd with Billy Buff and we both beat Nostalgia by 2 seconds. Just goes to show that starting on starboard made a difference between 3rd and 5th.
Since the last time I’ve raced a Laser the world has changed a lot. With the virus and social distancing and the cancellations and postponements – my first time Laser Sailing this year would be in June at the postponed Laser Spring Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We had a fantastic turnout with 11 Lasers and another 10 radials like on account of few other regattas going on this month and Junior week that was postponed, but junior race teams that have started practices.
The forecast all week was for cloudy, windy and chance of rain. It ended up being absolutely beautiful with sunny skies, light winds to starts and moderate temperatures.
Out on the racecourse we were originally going to start the Laseres with the Radials – we did a practice start with all of us together and there was a lot of over-earlies and just a lot of confusion. After the practice start and a general recall the fleets were finally split and we sent the Radials first followed by the Standards. The wind was about 8-9 for that first race.
With a little boat favor I made sure to win the boat and stay in clear air. By the top mark I found myself in 2nd just behind Avery who sailed just a little to the left of me. I followed him downwind, but on the final upwind to the finish I got a little out of phase and dropped 3 boats to finish 5th. Having not sailed in almost 7 months it was great to hang with the fleet and have upwind speed. I’m also down about 10 pounds and the lighter air helped there too.
In the second race I again won the boat and led at the windward mark and downwind. On the final beat I missed a big shift almost auto-tacked. By the time i recovered Avery sailed by and I was able to stay ahead of Luke for 2nd.
In the 3rd race the wind went a little more left and picked up a bit. I had an ok start and didn’t quite win the boat. Rounded the top mark in 4th and wound up finishing there. Alex had a great race and got away from me and just about caught Avery.
For the 4th and final race I decided to start closer to the pin. The wind had come a little left and the boat was looking at little crowded. I sailed in clear air and was 3rd at the top mark. Downwind James got around me and I would wind up 4th.
It’s been a while since I carried my cell phone with me in a waterproof case to tweet from the race course – today was the first time I was able to tweet between races using a cell-enabled watch. The dictation wasn’t super great, but it worked.
Huge thanks to Lew and the crew of Catitude for heading up race committee today.
Day 2 of the Crab Claw Regatta and Laser District 11 Championship at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis and we were greeted light winds and a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind. It came soon enough and along with the clearer skies we ended up with 12-14 knots of wind out of the North. We were out in the north sailing area looking upwind at the bridge.
In 3 races I had pretty good starts usually winning the boat or close to it and crossed most of the fleet on the first upwind. I didn’t quite have the upwind speed as some of the fast guys, but held my own when I remembered to round the offset and didn’t hit any marks. By the 3rd race I started to get the boat dialed in a little better and had better speed and didn’t make any mistakes leading to my weekend best of a 4th. Ended up 15th overall and it was great to sail with some competition to tune up before the FBYC Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters in October. Luke, Eric, Mike, Scott and Dave all sailed great this weekend and were fast all the way around the course. Thanks to Scott, Dorian and the fleet for hosting!
One other bit of news coming out of the weekend – Scott Williamson is going to take over as the District 11 Secretary. It’s a post I’ve held since the end of 2006. The Laser fleets in the mid-Atlantic remain a great group of sailors and it’s been fun to see the ups and downs of the fleets and to help play a part in connecting sailor and getting them out sailing. Thanks for taking this on Scott and I look forward to continuing to see the sailors I’ve met throughout the district for many years to come.
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.
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.
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.