It was the first weekend in December and the plan had been to race in FBYC’s winter series but fog and lack of good weather on future weekends for a delivery to Irvington for a haul out meant today was the day to make the trip.
With the winter series going on, we left the dock and sailed out into the fog in the mouth of the Piankatank where the other boats were racing. We could see maybe a 1/2 mile at time. We sailed by the other boats and then headed out to Stingray Point and around it and into the Rappahannock. The fog was a little denser out there and that was the only run in with another boat when a 25′ center console fishing boat went buzzing across our bow with barely visible lights.
The rest of the trip was smooth and the fog lifted as we closed in on the bridge.
Once in Irvington we pulled the sails off, did a few other clean up items and carpooled back to FBYC.
FBYC closed the regular season with the Closing Day Distance Race. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with beautiful fall foliage – it felt more like September than almost November. Except there wasn’t much wind. Knowing it was a distance race with little prospect of more wind later and oysters to be eaten this afternoon the RC chose to start us on time and let us make the most of what wind there was.
I was sailing on Battle Rhythm, we were the 3rd fastest boat and thus the 3rd to last boat to start. We were just behind Tradition as we came to the line and ended up underneath a bunch of boats who had parked up just above the line. It took us a long time to sail around them and after 35 minutes to the weather mark – we set a spinnaker and headed due east out of the river to the next mark of the course.
We soon passed a few boats that had rounded the first mark ahead of us. With the spinnaker up, we were a little low and eventually had to drop it and go back to a jib as the wind went a little south. By the time we reached the far mark we were around 7-8th place. On the way back to Stove Point we passed two cruising boats leaving only Afterthought, Nanuq and Goin’ ahead of us. We didn’t catch them, but had a good time to get at 4th and learned some things about how to make the light reaching spinnaker work in light wind and close reaching.
Following the race were oysters and we had a great time catching up with a lot of folks for possibly the last time of the year.
I recently digitized some old Laser Masters footage from the 2000 US Laser Masters. I was aboard the Judge boat for most of the event recoding on a Sony Hi-8 camera. It had been a while since I had seen this footage and it was great to be able to reminisce and remember the sailors who were there at the time and what Fishing Bay Yacht Club looked like with the old clubhouse.
As I processed the footage and spliced this together, I was amazed at the improvements to the software to be able to stabilize what was pretty shaky video at the time as well as the ability to clean up some of the audio.
I was also many years from being a master and yet I’m now older than many of the masters-age sailors at the time. Ooof.
Check out the video and the event results can be seen here.
This year we moved the Chesapeake Bay ILCA Masters Championship up to a September date to avoid some other masters conflicts in early October so it was a rare treat for the sailors not used to the pool being open to be able to hop in and cool off on a boiling hot Friday afternoon. I spent the afternoon getting things ready for the regatta by alternating between things I could do in the air conditioning and things outside and eventually joined the visiting sailors in the pool and later out to dinner at The Table.
On the Saturday, we arrived to nice weather and much cooler temperatures than the prior few days. There wasn’t much wind to start, but forecast to have some by mid-day and so the 32-boat fleet was sent out. We ended up having a 10-15 minute postponement before getting into a starting sequence. We would go through 2 false starts and finally a successful start under the Z flag. I didn’t have a great position at the start and was blanketed on the first beat. I was deep at the first mark and made up a few boats on the downwind and a couple more on the upwind to the finish on the short course. I would settle for 20th.
The wind continued to be a little shifty, still in the 8-10 range. In this race I had a fantastic start at the boat end with just a couple boats between me and the boat. Soon after the start I tacked and ducked a couple of boats to get out to the right. I continued to play a few shifts in the middle right and found myself out there in clear air with Dave Waiting near me. I would follow Dave into the first mark and on the downwind I went right thinking we were going to have a new breeze from the right. I was really wrong on that and 6 boats past me on the left by the time we got to the bottom mark. On the upwind I stayed to the right (facing upwind) side of the course while most of the boats ahead played the middle left. I got some great shifts and more pressure and by the time we got to the windward mark I had passed everyone and was just ahead of Dave. He has a lot more speed downwind than me and went by in pretty short order. I followed him to finish 2nd with the two of us well ahead of the bunch behind us.
While waiting for the 3rd race the wind started go to light and move around. We postponed on the water and then it became clear there were some storms to the south headed our way and so the fleet was sent in.
Alain wasn’t able to sail, but he brought food and the fleet had a good time hanging out and eating while it rained on and off outside.
On Sunday the forecast wasn’t very good and that’s what was delivered. After sending the race committee out to look for wind while the sailors waited on shore, they didn’t find any and with more thunderstorms coming – racing was abandoned for the day.
Congratulations to James Jacob on winning this event for his 7th time. Thanks to David Lee and everyone who helped on RC to make the most of the wind we had.
After missing Saturday’s racing while helping Todd deliver the boat – day 2 at the Stingray Point Regatta would be the first race of 2023 for J99 Battle Rhythm. As we were heading out to the course we were seeing winds of 8-11 and we used it to practice some maneuvers with our short-handed 4-man crew of Todd, Len, Ron and myself.
The first race started on time – still in 8-10 knots and we had a fantastic start. Other boats in the A2 fleet had better first legs and we found ourselves deep in the fleet at the first mark. We picked up places as the race went on and as the wind continued to drop. By the last downwind leg to the finish it was pretty light. We had past most of the boats ahead of us except Afterthought and Voodoo 2 who were just ahead of us drifting to the finish. Just as we got close the RC abandoned the race with all 3 of us just a couple hundred yards from the finish. It was disappointing to come all of this way and race through all of that, but wasn’t going to be a fair race and was the right call. We definitely learned a lot, started to get the boat dialed in and worked on finding the sweet spot on the new spinnaker we were flying.
After some time postponed motoring around to make some wind and stay cool – the sea breeze eventually filled in out of the south. The RC reset the course and sent us racing again. We didn’t have quite as good of a start this time and had to tack out pretty early and get away. That wasn’t awful as it was the right way for current relief and it allowed us to go in clear air. As the breeze built we spent the race getting back in the grove and taking our time in the maneuvers to not mess anything up. Sometimes we were pulling away from other boats, and other times they were running up on us. We got a 4th in that one.
In the last race of the day – now in the late afternoon, we had another pretty good start. This time we did better to keep up with Afterthought and Voodoo and they were just ahead of us for most of the first lap. The wind had built to 9-11 and we had to adjust modes for the wind and adjust our maneuvers with only the 4 of us to raise and lower sails a little slower to keep things controlled. Voodoo 2 and Afterthought did get a bit more ahead of us, but we held off the boats behind and managed a 5th.
I had a great time sailing with Len, Todd and Ron and it was fun to show all of these other fully crewed boats what we could do short handed.
We started the Labor Day Weekend with a distance race ahead of the Stingray Point Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. The boat I was to be sailing on wasn’t here on Friday so I jumped on a J120 called Bogey from Hampton Yacht Club with Steve, Daryl, Jim, Vicky, Amy, Tom, Rob, Mitchel and other Tom. This was my first time on a J120 which is almost like a 40′ version of a J105 and also has an asymmetrical spinnaker. My position was at the mast working with Tom on the bow and also providing some local knowledge as one of the only few who had sailed in this area before.
The wind was out of the NNE at 14 to 16 and we saw some periods of 8 while we were out there and some shiftiness. The race started in the mouth of the Piankatank River and we sailed about 4 miles to the south entrance of the Rappahannock River.
We had a great start right on the boat and we could just about lay the mark from there so we only spent a short time on starboard before tacking over for the long leg out. On the way out we crossed a current line where we could clearly see where the water from the Rappahannock met the water from the rest of the bay. We arrived at the mark just behind Nanuq with Excitation and Voodoo 2 just behind us.
Tradition, Nanuq and Voodoo 2
The next leg took us straight upwind to another entrance mark of the Rappahannock River. To our surprise the cruising class was also using this mark as a leg of their course, only they were rounding in the opposite direction. We arrived at the mark at the exact same time as Running Tide and we were on Starboard so they made a wide rounding to avoid us. I can’t say I’ve ever been in that situation in a sailing race before and I’m not 100% sure how all of the rules might apply.
From there we went back to the mark we had just came from and then did another lap around both of them. We got to some spinnaker sailing and made up some ground on Voodoo on the first downwind, but ceded it upwind by being on the wrong side of the course.
The last two legs were reaches back towards Stove Point. Nanuq was first over the line and well ahead followed by Voodoo 2 just ahead of us. Excitation and Osprey were a bit behind us. We would go on to finish on corrected time 4th behind Osprey, Excitation and Voodoo 2 with Nanuq behind us.
I had a lot of fun and it was a great day of racing. Thanks Steve and the rest of the crew on Bogey for having me aboard!
Drifting out to the race course before the wind filled.
Sunday started with very light winds and the forecast to build. We were postponed on the water as we all drifted out to the course. After about 20 minutes or so there was 3-5 out of the ESE and we were able to get a race started for the 6-boat ILCA fleet.
Alain got the best start in the first race, caught a nice shift on the first beat and lead all the way around the H3.
We would have 2 laps for the 2nd race and I had a great start at the boat. The left phase we had at the start came over to the right and being the right most boat, I was able to lead the whole way around the course. Dave T was right next to me and hot on stern.
By the 3rd race the wind went way left at the start and none of us were really laying the starting line. I tracked immediately at the start and got left and into pressure and had a nice lead at the windward mark. On the second beat I went more left and found less wind. Mike and Holly had more wind to the right, at one point I lee bowed Mike back to the right and into an amazing lift while I proceeded to sail into a hole and he went ahead as did Holly. On the final upwind I was able to get past Holly, but not Mike.
In the 4 race Alain had a great start covering me and I had to duck him and Dave to get out to the right and clear my air. Mike caught some better shifts and pressure to the left and led at the windward mark. Most of the rest of the fleet didn’t catch the lefty at the top of the course that Mike and i caught and so we were launched for the rest of the race. Mike covered me well on the 2nd upwind and stayed just ahead downwind. At the leeward mark I went around the outside of Mike, had a clean rounding and just out transitioned and out hiked him to nose out at the finish line that we were able to lay from the mark.
Given the wind shift, the RC postponed, moved the course and reset everything. The wind started to ease a bit. In the final race I just got ahead and stayed ahead finishing 1st. Thanks to Bob, Lisa, Ruthanna, Glenn and Becca for being our RC today!
Aboard Mad Hatter at the start of the Rescue Regatta.
This year Fishing Bay Yacht Club joined up with Stingray Harbor Yacht Club and the Middlesex County Rescue Squad to do a fundraiser regatta in place of what had been FBYC’s Delta Dash race. This year the race would be a 10 mile triangle with a progressive start – ie the slow boats start first and the faster boats start last and first over the finish line wins. It was still broken down by class, but it was fun for a bit to race boat for boat and try to catch the boats ahead.
Sailing downwind with the faster boats just behind and yet to catch us.
I was sailing on Mad Hatter and the wind started out great – in the 10-12 knot range as everyone was gearing up to start. With the wind out of the north the first leg was pretty close hauled. We quickly passed a couple of the boats who started just ahead of us and after a little over 4 miles of sailing there were just a couple boats still ahead of us.
Mad Hatter being passed by Sting and Excitation. Photo by Paul Almany.
The second leg was mostly downwind and the wind started to ease a bit. We put up the symmetrical spinnaker and gybed toward shore hoping for more wind. All the while the fast boats were catching us. After 2 miles of sailing – Sting, Afterthought and Excitation had caught us and rounded just inside the mark. We did a sail change and switched directly from a symmetrical spinnaker to an asymmetrical spinnaker. That worked for a while, but when the wind got really light, that sail didn’t do much and other boats with symmetrical spinnakers started catching up to us. Eventually we went back to the symmetrical, but by then Sting, Excitation and Afterthought were gone and all we could do was hold off Shenanigan and Schiehallion. As we started to get back towards the Piankatank the wind picked up again. We would finish shortly before 3pm which was the time limit for racing. Only 6 boats would finish the race before the time limit expired.
This year I did double duty at the 84th Annual One Design Regatta as both a sailor and as the event chair. I hadn’t planned on doing both, but had a bout 2 months to pull the event together. We had a great team and the biggest surprises were a couple fleets we weren’t expecting, but they were great to have and we made it work and work well and we’ll have it even better for next year.
Melges 15 launching at the Fishing Bay Yacht Club Beach
By the time Saturday rolled around most of the hard work of hosting was done – thanks to Doug, Paul, Jess and a number of other volunteers who spent hours and days preparing for the event. I was able to join the ILCA fleet out on the course for some racing. But before I could do that – I had to get to the race course which had been set in Hills Bay ~3+ miles from the launch site very near Gwynn’s island. I missed our first start by 2 minutes. From there it was a matter of playing catch up in the first race and I would settle for a 7th.
In the second race I had a fantastic start with Noah just below me. We went upwind side by side before I eventually split off. I had a good beat and found myself first to the weather mark. Of course Scott would go right by me downwind and then I passed him again upwind and repeat on the downwind. Only on the final beat I would blow it and let Dave by me as well to leave me in 3rd.
The 3rd and 4th races were similar. I didn’t quite have the speed or tactics that Dave and Scott had. I was mixing it up with Natalie, Noah and Mike M putting up a 3 and a 4 and leaving me winning the tiebreaker for 3rd with Mike M.
Sunday stayed true to the forecast and we never really had enough wind to sail and so we called it around mid day and the results stood. Scott sailed a great regatta – he’s so fast down wind I just couldn’t keep up with him.
Jon, Dave, Scott along with PRO Jim at the awards ceremony. Photo by Paul Almany.
All in all the regatta was a success. Certainly some things to improve upon for next year, but most everyone was pretty happy.