Sailboat Racing

Saying Goodbye to the Strange Bird

Jon and Jess with the Strange Bird Snipe
Jon and Jess with the Strange Bird Snipe

Our adventure with the Strange Bird Snipe came to and end 5 years to the day it started in 2016. The bird flew to North Carolina to be with a new owner and hopefully be sailing on Kerr Lake in 2022. Refurbishing the bird was a fun project over the years and Jess and I had some fun sailing it together at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. Hopefully the bird will see a little more use with a new owner!

Here’s a look at the boat over the years.

PICTURES

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2021 FBYC Closing Day Regatta & Oyster Roast

Saturday was FBYC’s Closing Day Regatta – this is usually the traditional end of the season weekend with big boats sailing a pursuit race on Saturday followed by oysters. Then we sail ILCA on Sunday in our final race of the day. With a low pressure off the coast, there is forecast wind all weekend. We ultimately canceled the ILCA regatta for Sunday though it wasn’t enough to cancel the offshore race.

Looking upwind as we sail to the finish

I was sailing with Mike Toms on his J105 Purple Wahoos. Aboard with us were a number of Mike’s friends from college and one other sailor we picked up on the dock. Being a pursuit race and being the 2nd fasted boat by rating, we had a late starting time and didn’t leave the dock until after the rest of the fleet. The race had already been postponed 30 minutes due to wanting to set a new course that would keep us a little more protected in the Piankatank. In the open water of the bay the wind was gusting over 30. Where we ended up sailing we had some gusts into the 20’s but was mostly in the mid to high teens for most of the race. The wind was out of the NNE.

We hit our starting time on a broad reach as we sailed south and then west up the Piankatank. We slowly caught up to boats ahead like GOIN and Morningtide. As we got to the turn around spot up the river the wind was predictably lighter and this is where we encountered most of the rest of the fleet. We eventually got around Mad Hatter and Sting.

The fleet behind us in the Piankatank

As we approached Fishing Bay we slowed a bit to put a reef into the main sail knowing this was the last opportunity we’d have to do this before sailing into more wind and the last leg was going to be relatively upwind. I had done main for most of the race and swapped with Mike and drove the bit of the race after needing a break from all of the sheet adjustments on the main to keep the right heel and speed.

On the final beat we were in 4th with Shenanigan just ahead of us and Corryvrekan and Sting just behind us. We were slowly able to pick off Shenanigan, but Corryvreckan came from behind to finish ahead of us leaving us in 4th overall.

Red dotted line showing the track we took.
Red dotted line showing the track we took.

Given the wind and conditions it was great being on the water and we made the most of what we had. It was a fun way to end the season followed by an Oyster Roast at the club.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2021 ILCA Masters Atlantic Coast Championship

Brant Beach Yacht Club would host the 2021 ILCA Masters Atlantic Coast Championship on what would be a rather windy August weekend. I started well in the first race, had a reasonable first leg in the middle to upper part of the 30 boat standard fleet. Downwind I got the flipsies and ended up towards the back of the fleet. The second race went much the same and after flipping too many times I called it a day and skipped the final race.

I intended to race on Sunday, but upon arrival at the club it was clear that I had re-aggravated a foot injury from the prior weekend. With some travel and other activities I have coming up the next month, I didn’t want to put any of that in jeopardy and packed up the boat and headed home early.

Photos | Event Website | Results

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2021 FBYC 82nd Annual One Design Regatta

I was at Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s 82nd Annual One Design Regatta to help on RC and I was able to get some good pictures. Here are some of my favorites:

ILCA start with Mr. Roberts pictured
ILCA start with Mr. Roberts pictured
Flying Scots sailing downwind
Flying Scots sailing downwind
ILCA going for the port tack start
ILCA going for the port tack start
Flying Scots beginning a downwind leg
Flying Scots beginning a downwind leg

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2021 FBYC ILCA Summer Regatta I

Jon starting at the boat

Saturday saw beautiful weather – mostly sunny with winds starting around 12 and building to about 15-16 knots out of the south west

Jon upwind near the mark – Photo by Paul Almany

We had 14 boats with 9 ILCA 7 (Standard) and 4 ILCA 6 (Radial). We all started on the same line which made things more fun with more boats to race with around the course. Some of the Radial sailors were really fast and were nearby and beating many of the standards around the course. It kept things interesting at mark roundings.

Mark rounding – Photo by Paul Almany

FBYC’s junior coach for the summer, Francisco Renna, put on a clinic in the standard fleet. He was fast all the way around the course and nobody came close to him in all 5 races. Rob Whittemore sailed consistently fast and consistently in the right spot to stay just ahead of me and Luke Hayes who tied for 3rd place with the tiebreaker going to Luke.

Francisco over my shoulder just after a start already well ahead.

All day I had great starts and focused on winning the boat. I held my lane ok, but wasn’t as fast as I could have been upwind. I chalk some of that to my thinking it was summer sailing and I didn’t need hiking boots. The bruises on my feet later in the day would say otherwise.

David Hinkle and the RC did a great job keeping the course square getting us started cleanly.

RESULTS | PICTURES | Paul Almany Pictures

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2021 FBYC July 4th Long Distance Race

We had a bit of everything for FBYC’s 4th of July Long Distance race in the Strange Bird Snipe. This was the first time sailing the boat since fall of 2019 while we rebuilt the mast step in 2020. We were sailing with 10 other boats including Flying Scots, Thistle, San Juan 21, Weta and it was our first time sailing against another snipe.

The first leg started out in the Piankantank near Godfrey Bay and we headed east towards Gwynn’s island near 8. With the wind from the south east – we were almost upwind and we were one of the more southerly boats hoping to catch the puffs sooner.

As we got to that mark and headed North to our next mark, the wind went more south making this the only downwind of the course. Some of the spinnaker boats started to get ahead. We rounded and sailed back south to the Piankatank on a relatively close-hauled course and then tacked to sail back to the finish in Godfrey Bay. All in all, because of the way the wind shifted, there was a lot of upwind – this worked in our favor not having a spinnaker and we were able to finish 4th. This also favored the San Juan 21 who finished just ahead of us and corrected over everyone to win it.

We were able to complete the race, but when we got back to the dock we realized the blew out the block at the base of the mast, the same part we broke back in 2018, and this will require some repairs before our next outing.

RESULTS

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2021 Commonwealth of Virginia Junior Championship Regatta

Fishing Bay Yacht Club hosted the 2021 Commonwealth of Virginia Junior Championship Regatta. I went out to spectate on Sunday and got some photos of the ILCA 6 and 420 course.

420
ILCA 6 Sailing downwind

PICTURES

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2021 ILCA Nationals: Sunday

Sunday saw a bit more wind than we had the prior two days for ILCA Nationals. It was windy up in the river, it actually calmed down a bit once we were at the sailing area in the James. With the wind in the upper teens and the same head on current we had seen the prior two days, upwind was a slog.

In the first race of the day I actually moved the boat and picked some shifts fairly well to be really close to the top 10 at the top mark, only I miss-judged the lay line with the current and with no where to go with a pack of boats just above me, I ended up missing the mark and having to circle around and duck a bunch of boats to get back to the mark. From there I just held on and finished 28th.

In the 2nd race the wind was up another knot or two, same direction, same current. I was holding on around mid-fleet when I lost it downwind and death rolled. The current and wind made it hard to get the boat turned and righted so I lost a bunch of boats on that leg. I caught a few folks on the next two legs and finished 30th. Out of energy with the wind continuing to increase a bit, I decided I had enough fun for the weekend and skipped the last race.

Photo by Paul Almany

It was great to sail with some folks I hadn’t seen in quite a while and nice to be able to sail a big event much closer to home. Thanks to Norfolk Yacht and Country Club and ODU Sailing for all the effort they put into this event. Given the scheduling and re-scheduling of it over the past year, it was no easy feat.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2021 ILCA Nationals: Saturday

The wind and conditions for the 2nd day of ILCA Nationals was much like yesterday – out of the South West at 8-10. The big difference today was that it was much more steady and didn’t require any course or starting line changes.

In the first race I had a dismal start and got shot out the back. I made up some boats on the 2nd beat and managed to finish around mid-fleet.

Don Hahl
Don Hahl between races

In the 2nd race I started closer to the pin with clear air and worked my way out to the left. Unfortunately for me the right had better angles and was still mid-fleet at the top mark. I made up a few spots and finished 24th.

By the 3rd race the current had switched pushing us over the line and we had one general recall before getting a clean start. I didn’t have a stellar start, but finally felt like I was able to keep the boat moving and picked some shifts well to be around the top 10 at the top mark. I sailed conservatively to stay with those around me and lost a few boats here and there and ended up 17th. That was the first race all weekend that I felt like I was actually sailing how I wanted to and actually competing.

Saturday evening I met up with some folks from FBYC and we caught up over dinner on the water.

Harris River near Hampton VA

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2021 ILCA Nationals: Friday

Ready to Launch at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club

For the first day of the ILCA Nationals I launched from Norfolk Yacht and Country Club and we sailed out into the James River off Craney Island. This took close to an hour to sail to and is an area I’ve never sailed in when sailing out of NYCC or ODU.

We were sailing the ILCA trapezoid course with the split ILCA 6 (Radial) fleets sailing the outer course and the ILCA 7 (Standard) sailing the inner course. The current on the course would end up being a really big factor. At the beginning of the day the current was ebbing and with the wind out of the west – the wind lined up with the current so both were coming straight down the course. This helped keep us from being over early at the start, but also made it very tough to pick the layline right and not hit the mark.

Sailing in current is hard. Sailing in current when the wind is shifty is even harder. Just when I’d get the feel figured out and feel like the boat is starting to move, the wind would shift and I’d have to re-acclimate to the new wind direction.

First race had a terrible start, was really deep at the top mark. Went right downwind and caught a shift/pressure early and rode that around 8 or so boats that had gone more left. On the upwind I banged the same side (now left) and went around another 8 or so boats and on the final downwind I stuck to that same side and passed a few more boats. Each time catching the shifts just right and found myself finishing 10th.

postponed
Postponed off and on

We then spent over 2 hours waiting for the RC to set and reset the course to changing winds and for the Radial fleet to get a start. Eventually they got one only to have a 40-degree shift right at the start and about the time they were approaching the weather mark, the race abandoned only to have to return to start again.

By the time racing was started the current had switched directions and the chop picked up. I had two less exciting races mostly poking around mid fleet. We wouldn’t get to shore until after 6pm after spending nearly 9 hours on the water. I de-rigged and left to find dinner and cheap replacement watch for the one that had broken since last weekend.

No Quarter tucked in for the night.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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