Sailboat Racing

Snipe Mast Step Rebuild

In Spring of 2020 we took a socially distanced trip to Deltaville to take the Snipe out for a day of practice and to get out on the water for the first time that year. We rigged the boat and sailed some reaches back and forth in front of the club in the 8-10 knot north wind for about 20 minutes. With everything going well we decided to sail downwind out into the river and into the stronger winds further south. Downwind was fine, but just a minute after turning to go upwind with the boat fully powered up we heard a bang and the shrouds all went slack. The mast stayed vertical, but it had fallen through the mast step and was sitting on the bottom hull of the boat 4″ lower than it was supposed to be. We hobbled back to the club and took the boat home for repairs.

Old Mast Step
Empty hole where the mast step once was

The boat is a 1986 Phoenix Snipe and had a wood mast step. It had likely been cracked for some time as the boat took on some water in the parking lot when rainwater would run down the mast. It wouldn’t get water in it when we were sailing or when it was stored covered with the mast down. So began some research to figure out how best to repair the step and make the boat sailable again. On the advice of a snipe-sailing friend I posted a note in the Snipe Sailing Facebook Group asking for suggestions. I knew rebuilding the structure that was there was going to be hard and was hoping someone had some experience with this. Marcus Ward suggested rather than repairing what was there, to just put a fiberglass plate over the hole with a new mast step and shortening the mast.

We started by getting a Selden mast step. The existing mast base was just a little too wide to fit in it so we needed to grind down the sides a bit to make it fit.

Mast Step
Mast base ground down to fit in the new step

Next a 12×12″x1/4″ G10 fiberglass board was acquired and we used cardboard and later a piece of wood to make a template of the fiberglass board that we were going to cut for it.

Mast Step Template
Showing the cardboard template, wood template and G10 fiberglass board

To cut the G10 fiberglass plate we got a saw blade, used for cutting tile, to use on the table saw.

Cutting G10
Using the tile-cutting blade to cut the G10 Fiberglass plate

To mount the plate in the boat we used West G/Flex Expoxy 655. The floor of the boat it was mounted to wasn’t flat and so this product has some filler and would bridge the gap and create a solid bond. Then screws were used to mount the mast step into the board.

Installed Mast Step

With the mast step in place, I needed to cut the mast down as far as I could so it would be the same height as it was. The challenge was the jib halyard block at the bottom of the mast. We would need to make the mast base fit around the block if we were going to shorten the mast as much as we could. The mast base was milled and ground down to fit the mast.

Mast Plug

The next step was actually cutting down the mast. I used a 200-tooth aluminum and plastic blade on a miter saw to get a clean and square cut on the mast.

Cut down Mast

The final step was mounting the vang blocks to the plate near the base of the mast and then actually re-rigging everything that had been taken apart.

Rigged

With the mast being .75″ taller than it was, I’m sure it needs to be re-measured and adjusted. The mast collar had to be adjusted just a bit so it hit the boat in the right spot. We’re just happy to be able to sail it and to extend the life of the boat a little bit longer.

Mast Collar

Huge thanks to Marcus Ward for the idea, Stan Deutsch for the help and tools, and Frank Hoos for milling the mast base.

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2021 ILCA District 11 Championship: Sunday

ILCA Dinghies rigged at NYCC
Rigging at NYCC

The forecast for Sunday of the ILCA District 11 Championship at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club called for a little better wind than we had yesterday. Being tied in points with 2nd place and a few points behind the leader with a few folks just a couple points behind me, I had to have a good day with top 3 finishes to stay on the podium.

A crowd at the race 1 finish
Crowd at race 1 finish

The pressure to finish well put only a little pressure on the first race to have a good start – only I started too well and was called over early and had to go back. Just as I cleared myself and turned to go back upwind the tiller extension popped out of the tiller and I had to stop and fix it. The vang also fell out of the boom and I was able to fix that once I was going upwind. So I started about 15-20 lengths behind everyone and just looked for a clear lane and tried to go fast. I caught some shifts and came in on port at the weather mark, ducked a few boats and rounded around 6-7. Downwind I stayed to the right and started working the boat in the waves and puffs, stayed away from the other boats that were in each others’ air and went around all of them. I was first to the leeward mark and I held onto that for the 2nd lap to win it. What an exciting way to start the day!

ILCA at the starting line
ILCA at the startging line

We had similar conditions for the next 3 races. I generally favored the left until the last race when the current turned and the right did a little better upwind. It was great having good boat speed so even when I wasn’t in the exact best spot to start, I was able to get clear air to be among the leaders upwind. Downwind I held my own. As the day went on I was really wiped out and out of energy. I fell back to 3rd and then 5th and then 8th in the subesequent race. I was doing all the right things to be a contender, just ran out of energy to make it happen.

Alex sailed well enough to maintain his lead. David hung in there and had some good downwind moves to get around some boats to save some points. Jake had a great day including a race win to take 3rd and I fell to 4th place.

NYCC did a great job putting on the regatta and running races. It was nice to sail on the same waters as ILCA Nationals next month and get more familiar with Norfolk and Iook forward to coming back next month.

FINAL RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2021 ILCA District 11 Championship: Saturday

Norfolk Yacht and Country Club hosted the first day of the ILCA District 11 Championship. We planned to go on time and a few of us launched and by the time we got to the end of the dock the RC put up a postponement, so we came and hung out for about 2 hours before there was enough to race with.

Postponed ashore

Out on the race course we had 4-5 knots – not great – but enough to race in. I had a terrible start without any speed at the gun and got shot out the back pretty quick. I tacked out to the right, ducked a bunch of boats and found some clean air and went to work. I rounded the top in 5 and about halfway down the run the wind shut off and then turned completely around. I was to the right and figured it out as fast as anyone and at one point was ahead of everyone. Alex played the zephyrs better and shot ahead to win it. Jack and I split tacks and he played the shifts better and I finished 3rd.

Light air on the racecourse.

After the first race there was no wind whatsoever. We sat around and got swarmed by sand flies. 45 minutes later we were quite happy when the wind filled in not just so we could go sail, but to blow the flies away.

Waiting to start racing

Over the next 3 races the wind would fill for 20 minutes or so and then go very light for 5-10 minutes. This repeated throughout the races. I had good starts near the boat and generally sailed well with a few moments of poor decisions and being in the wrong spot on the course. By the 4th race the current was really ripping slightly from the right making the upwind tacks very challenging to keep boat speed going. I would finish 8-5-3 in those races putting me in 3rd overall.

Coming in at the finish of the last race

David Hartman sailed consistently and he too had a few moments he got on the wrong side of the course. The hero of the day was Rebecca – she was originally signed up for a Radial and switched to a full rig and probably weighs half of what some of the fleet weigh. She ran away with the last two races and is currently 2nd. After winning the first race, Alex sailed consistently and had all top 5 finishes to be leading the fleet.

DAY 1 RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2021 FBYC ILCA Spring Regatta

Mike Toms sailing up to Mr. Roberts

Fishing Bay Yacht Club held their first one design event of the year and we had 6 standard rig ILCA dinghies there to sail with us including a new member. The wind forecast wasn’t great. We postponed an hour and once we saw wind start to fill from the south east we headed across the Piankatank river to Area B.

For the first race we had about 8-9 knots of wind out of the ESE. I had a good start, tacked somewhat early and lead Holly and Alain to the right where I had been expecting the wind to go. Not only did the wind go left, but there was more pressure there and Chris and Mike had both gone pretty deep left. Coming together at the top mark Mike and Chris were 5-8 lengths ahead of me and I had to follow them downwind on what was more of a very broad reach. At the bottom mark I immediately went left to the layline and used some speed to pass Chris and catch up to Mike who tried to tack above me towards the top of the mark. He tacked a little close and I was able to keep my speed through his lee and eventually pinch him off tracking clear ahead to starboard near the mark. From there I extended a bit downwind to win the first race.

For the 2nd race the RC shifted the course to the left. As a sidebar the starting line was perfectly square to the course in every single race – the RC did a great job there. I had a perfect start at the boat and two boats down the line were over early. Meanwhile Alain got shut out on the wrong side of the committee boat and started late. I focused on sailing in pressure and favored the left side of the course and just worked on extending my lead. Mike and Chris duked it out behind me and Chris got ahead when Mike fouled him at the 2nd upwind mark rounding allowing Chris to finish 2nd.

Alain going downwind ahead of Britt

In Race 3 Mike and I started at the starboard end of line with Mike just to to leeward. I was a few seconds late to pull the trigger and Mike hit the line full speed and quickly pulled a few lengths ahead. I tried to find a wind lane out to the right. The left still had more pressure and Mike had a comfortable lead at the top mark. Alain who had also gone left was just ahead of me and I followed him downwind. On the 2nd upwind I tacked early and used the pressure to the left to get ahead of Alain. I started to catch Mike on the downwind, but ran out of course to catch him and settled for a 2nd.

Chris Rouzie finishing in front of Mr. Roberts
Chris Rouzie

By the 4th race the wind dropped a couple knots – still steady enough to know where it was coming from. I had another good start winning the boat and just powered over the fleet and out to the left. Tacked just under the layline to be sure I didn’t over stand and then just sailed conservatively to stay ahead of the rest of the fleet. Alain a very solid race right behind me to finish 2nd.

Felt like a great day where I only made a couple mistakes and when I did, they didn’t hurt to bad. It was fun mixing it up with Mike, Chris, Alain, Britt and Holly and the RC ran a great set of races. Between races I even got some pictures of the Flying Scots.

Flying Scot start

RESULTS | PICTURES

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2021 Hampton ILCA Spring Classic: Sunday

What wind we didn’t have on Saturday came on Sunday making for some windy racing. With only 4 boats out today, the regatta came down to how I did against David Hartman who started the day 2 points ahead. We were joined by David Grace, a CNU sailor, and Frank Patch.

I focused on having good clean starts and working to hold my lane off the line on the first beat. We had some current going left to right which lead me to favor the left side of the course and staying on starboard as long as I dared. As would be proven to me, picking shifts to the right would still beat playing the current, especially given the winds in the mid to upper teens gusting to 20.

Radials turning downwind during their final race Sunday

In most of the Races I played the middle left of the course, David G and I would cross tacks and be within a few boat lengths of each other at the top mark, sometime me ahead and sometimes him. I would make up some distance on the reach and David would either pass me or pull ahead on the downwinds. Once I was behind I sailed a little more conservatively to hold my position and not break anything and save my energy for the next start. I did manage to lead one whole race capsized once in another race. David and Frank were usually just behind us on the trapezoid course with inner and outer loops (we sailed the outer).

Britt, David H, Frank P, David G, Jon after racing at Hampton Yacht Club

Racing in this wind was the perfect way to start the season and get comfortable in the boat again. With a regatta at FBYC in May followed by Districts in late May and ILCA Nationals in June – both at Norfolk YCC – this was exactly what I needed to get back into ILCA sailing. Thanks Max and everyone at Hampton Yacht Club for hosting, and to David H, David G, Henry, Britt and everyone else who came out to sail. It was great to get out and go sail somewhere else after not doing any travel regattas last year and nice to see everyone again.

RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2021 Hampton ILCA Spring Classic: Saturday

Arrival at Hampton Yacht Club with the ILCA on top of the VW Atlas

I have some fond memories of frostbite sailing and a sailing district championship in 1998-1999 and I haven’t sailed a Laser/ILCA dinghy there since. While I had sailed at Hampton on other boats – it was good to be back with my own boat and good to be sailing my first regatta of 2021.

There was some wind to get us out to the course and once there it completely shut off. The ebbing current was starting to build and so I just tied off to one of the marks and sat there for 2 hours. The locals all claimed “It’s never like this in Hampton.”

Tied off to a race mark to wait for wind

Eventually the wind did fill in from the south with just a few knots and a race was started for the 5 ILCA Dinghies as well as for the Radial fleet. I had a great start at the boat and quickly realized I was slow off the line with the wrong outhaul setting. I was half a boatlength ahead of David Hartman coming into the top mark on the port layline and had to duck him. I followed him the rest of the way around the course for a 2nd.

The wind shifted left between races, the course was reset and we sailed another race. I had a great start at the boat and stayed in the middle left of the first beat. Chris went more left while David went more right where there was pressure and both were just ahead of me at the top mark. I followed them downwind and on the 2nd beat we set up much the same with Chris to the left and David to the right only this time there was a lane of wind right down the middle of the course and I was able to stay in pressure and passed both to the top mark and finished in 1st.

By the 3rd race the wind shifted left again and now it lined up so we were sailing directly into the current on the upwind legs making them a very slow slog. Downwind sailing with the wind just faster than the current made it tough to keep the sail set right and doing anything other than just driving down. By the end of the race the wind totally dropped out and the race shortened for both fleets. My efforts to sail in shallower water out of the current took me to less pressure and so I was never able to get around Henry and settled for a 4th.

The race committee towed us in just as it started drizzling. Sitting in 2nd, 2 points behind first and day 2 is tomorrow.

RESULTS | PICTURES

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2020 FBYC Laser Frostbite Regatta

The forecast didn’t look good for today, but those who sailed yesterday knew the forecast also didn’t look good and it still came in around 1 for sail-able conditions. Sure enough that’s what happened and after waiting ashore about an hour we were able to get a course set on the north side of Fishing Bay right off the dock and able to sail short windward-lewards.

Photo by Ruthanna Jenkins

We had a 9-boat fleet that wasn’t too crowded at the line. I started near the pin and worked the middle left of the course in the first race. James and Mike were ahead at the weather mark and that’s pretty much where we stayed for 2 laps.

In the 2nd race I didn’t have as good of a start and sailed into some holes. As I went for a tack one of the traveler fairleads gave way. Thankfully it was a short sail in and Mike had some spare parts. I was fixed up and made the next start with 35 seconds the spare. The rest of the fleet had sailed off so I sailed the course by my self for a last place finish.

Photo by Lisa Fleck

We sailed race 4 and while I thought I was sailing the favored side of the course – I clearly wasn’t sailing in as much pressure as much of the rest of the fleet. By the time we got to the weather mark I was behind Mike and James and would not catch up. For the final race I made sure I was in more pressure and it worked. I had a comfortable lead and was able to hold onto it to win the final race.

Being able to wear shorts and light clothing in November made it as nice of a day as we could have asked for our final race day of the year. Thanks to Jerry, Henry, Ruthanna, Bob and Lisa for being out there doing race committee.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2020 Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship: Sunday

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Jon onboard the RIB taking pictures. Photo by Paul Almany.

Day 2 of the 39th Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship and we were set to have very nice weather for mid-October – 8-12 knots out of the east. I arrived early to the club as I always do to get breakfast ready for the sailors and get the day started. I also had some last-minute to-dos including putting the trophies together. In the process of cutting some line I cut my finger. I wasn’t too bad of a cut, but it was right across my pointer finger – right where I would be holding a line. I thought it best not to sail and risk it not healing or getting worse, so I bandaged it up, put a rubber glove over it and a sailing glove over that and went out on a RIB to take pictures and be an extra safety boat.

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Photo by Paul Almany

This was one of the first times I’ve photographed Lasers with my Nikon D300s and 18-200mm. That combination was great – it’s relatively light and easy to hold and being able to zoom all the way in and back out without changing lenses meant I could easily change perspectives.

In the end it was another terrific Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Regatta. Even with COVID precautions it all ran pretty smoothly and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to all of the sailors who made the trip. To James Jacob on winning this regatta for the record 6th time. And to all of the RC, volunteers and staff who continue to make this one of the most special events on the bay, in the laser class and at Fishing Bay Yacht Club.

RESULTS | Jon’s Pictures | Paul Almany Pictures

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2020 Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship: Saturday

The first day of the Cheseapeake Bay Laser Masters was a beautiful day – just a little on the cool side with with the wind out of the North. The best sailing area for the large fleet was across the river in Godfrey Bay and it was definitely blowing with winds in the upper teens.

For the first race I had a great start at the boat, held my lane upwind and quickly found myself in clear air ahead of the fleet. I worked my way to the right side of the course and worked a couple shifts to the top mark. As I got to the mark Scott Williamson was just ahead of me. Downwind I held my own and on the 2nd upwind I picked some shifts and found myself leading Scott and James Jacob who were just a little behind. Downwind we held our positions and on the final upwind I made a couple small mistakes allowing them to catch up and ultimately pass me by just a half boat length at the finish leaving me in 3rd. What a way to start the regatta – in 40+ boats to be in a position to lead it and in wind I’m not usually as competitive in was great.

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Photo by Paul Almany

In the 2nd race to my surprise – went much the same way. I was 2nd at the top mark behind James after playing more of the middle-left of the course. Downwind Scott got around me and we stayed that way to finish the 2nd race in the same order – James, Scott me.

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Jon leading the fleet upwind. Photo by Paul Almany

By the 3rd race the wind hadn’t let up much – still steady 15+. I was starting to get a little tired and cold. I wouldn’t realize it until later that I had forgotten to take any of my food with me. In this race I was 15th at the first top mark. I still had good speed all the way around the course and was able to climb my way back to 9th.

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For the 4th race I had a pretty terrible start having to tack out and duck some boats. I wasn’t used to doing this from the past 3 races – and I didn’t like it. I spent some time mid-fleet and still had good speed. I liked the left side of the course going downwind and this was one of the days of racing where I consistently was passing more boats downwind than were passing me. The waves were just a little off angle to the wind and especially at the bottom of the course were just big enough to get some good surfing on. I was able to climb up to 11.

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Photo by Paul Almany

By the middle of the afternoon the wind was supposed to start easing – yet it never did making for a long and hard day of sailing for the fleet. By the 5th race the fleet had dwindled to about 30 boats still racing. In this one I had another good start, played the shifts and hung in around the top 10 boats. I was able to pass some boats and finish 10.

What a great fleet we have! There’s a lot of parity in the fleet and any of the top 15 boats are chasing for the lead. But Scott and James are both making a run at the title after today’s racing.

Following racing we had some outdoor socially distant happy hour followed by dinner in the open porch with the tables all spread out. We weren’t able to seat everyone together, but we made it work and everyone was great about staying apart and wearing masks.

Ultimately it was an early night and I spent some time fixing some of the scores in the new scoring system and getting to bed.

Jon’s Pictures | Paul Almany Pictures

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2020 Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship: Friday

16 years I’ve run the Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship and this one – like many before – will be like none-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.

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