Sailboat Racing

2019 Laser North American Championship: Thursday

Today was the first day of the Laser North American Championship at Branch Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.  BBYC has a great beach and facility and does a great job running big Laser regattas and I enjoy coming back.  I was hear last year for 2018 US Masters Nationals and I sailed the 2011 North American Championship here too.

There are 3 fleets here – about 18 boats in the smallest rig the 4.7, 80 in the mid-size Radial rig and I’m in the 40-boat Standard Rig fleet.  This is a VERY competitive fleet. Only 15 of the sailors are ‘masters’ – over 35- years old and many of them are in high school and are here with coaches and spend the summer going to various regattas and training. There are quite a few sailors from Canada and even a few that made the trip from Ecuador, Barbados, Puerto Rico and a few others.

After checking in this morning and getting my sail inspected and the usual skippers meeting they took us out to the middle of the bay – an easy 30-min reach from the club in the ~12 knots of breeze out of the south under mostly sunny skies with just some small waves. After some practice and a 20-minute postponement we were ready for the first race.

The first race was a clean start for the fleet – I was near the boat and had a fantastic start right on the line and in clear air. My boat speed up the first leg wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped for.  The wind at 12-14 with some higher gusts meant hiking most of the time.  On the reach and runs I was able to hold my own.  Near the end on the run I flipped and lost a few boats although I was able to pick a couple back up on the reach as I started to improve my speed there.

I had forgotten about the seaweed here – last year it was mostly a non-issue and today I had to remember my weed clearing techniques.

For the second race the wind picked up another couple knots out of the same direction and we now had consistent white caps.  I had another fantastic start near the boat and like the last race I was right under Leo – the 2nd place boat – who had no trouble driving over me (pictured above).  I don’t think I improved my speed upwind, but I was able to sail a little more consistently and not slow down for adjustments.

On the reaches I started to get the boat moving relative to the folks around me and I was consistently able to pick off a few boats reaching. I helped that we were finishing with the 4.7s and when they reached, they sailed high and some of the Standards went with them, and I was able to sail the rhumb line keeping the boat planing and making up more distance. This ended up as my best race – with about a dozen boats behind me.  Yes – it’s the kind of race where I’m counting how many boats are behind me – ie 12 boats behind means I finished mid to high 20’s.

In the 3rd race we had another knot of wind – I had a terrible start at the boat where I got trapped behind it in irons while the fleet sailed away and so I started well behind everyone. I still managed to not be last at the windward mark and did pick off a few more boats.  Another downwind capsize gave away some spots, but at least I was getting more comfortable in the higher winds.

As soon as we crossed the finish line there were storms to the North West of us and they sent us in for the day.

All in all it wasn’t a terrible day of sailing – I finished about how I expected given how little Laser sailing I had done this year and the fact that I weigh 8-10 pounds less than I did a year ago when I sailed here. I think that lead to the capsizes – where I’m used to throwing my weight over to keep the boat flat, only I don’t have as much to throw and underestimated the effort needed to avoid a capsize.

After sailing I beached the boat and quickly got into my running clothes to do a 4-mile run around the neighborhood before the storm came through. Eventually the storm rolled through just as we were heading over to the club for dinner.  It was great catching up with some friends and sailors I haven’t seen for a few year and sharing stories of regattas past.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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2019 FBYC Moonlight Regatta

We had a gorgeous night aboard Mike’s new to him j105 Purple Wahoos to sail Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s Moonlight Race on June 15.  Mike wasn’t able to sail so Clark, Scott, Jenny and I sailed the boat along with two kids.  The race was set to start at 7:30 at night and the wind was forecast to pick up overnight and so the RC picked the shorter 14 mile course for all 6 boats sailing. We were in the PHRF-A class against J109 Afterthought. Purple Wahoos is a shoal draft wheel driven J105.

The RC got the race started about 15 minutes late. That was enough time for us to sail over to what would be the finishing mark and get a ping on it allowing us to find it later in the dark. The start was downwind- we approached at the pin and set the chute just after crossing the line. The rest of the legs would end up being somewhere between upwind and reaching. I trimmed jib, navigated, did pit and drove half of a leg.

We had a great race and managed to correct to 1st in our fleet and 2nd overall.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2019 FBYC Laser Training

FBYC was doing a Race Committee training day which made it a great opportunity for Jess and me to get out in Lasers with the rest of the fleet to do some starting practice and very short course racing.

PICTURES/VIDEO

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2019 Open House Regatta

This year for Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s Open House Regatta – Jess and I finally got the Snipe out for this event. This was a progressive start race and we just barely made our start time. The wind started out good out of the west and we had more of it to work with as one of the first boats to start.


By the time we round Piankatank 8 we had passed the boats ahead of us and had a few shining moments in the lead before the big boats rolled us. We got through 80% of the course and were just off Stove Point when the wind shut off again. At the prospect of sitting out there for a while and missing the raft up – we dropped out and took a tow in.

The raft up was fun as ever and we got to cruise on Mad Hatter for ride back around afterward.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2019 FBYC One Design Spring Series #2

We got Jess’s snipe back in the water for the first time this year. We made some upgrades – mainly new halyards and halyard turning blocks in the mast.

We got to FBYC early for the One Design Spring Series #2 event – Jess towed the boat behind the jeep for the first time – and we got everything rigged and in the water. We were a little late to the start of racing and caught the 3rd race. We were in the Portsmouth class with two San Juan 21s.

We were about halfway up the first leg when the halyard that we had just installed broke – putting our jib in the water. We attempted to sail under main alone, but got stuck in irons and so far behind we gave up on that race. For the next race I drove under main alone around the short 2 lap windward leeward.  We still managed to beat the San Juan 21s around the course, but one of them corrected on time to tie with us so we got a 1.5 for the one race we finished.

RESULTS | PICTURES

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2019 FBYC Laser Spring Regatta

We had what was probably the best day we could have asked for on a opening day of the one design season at FBYC. It was warm, partly sunny, good wind and the rain held off until we were done sailing. I was joined by 5 Lasers in what started out as light wind around 5-8 and through the course of 5 races built to about 15. I was talked out of wearing hiking pants thinking it wasn’t going to be hiking conditions and boy was I wrong.  And I’m still sore as I write this 3 days later.

Finn, one of the junior radial sailors was out with us and I loaned him a Standard sail to sail with so we could all be in the same fleet.  Despite being 40 pounds lighter than I am – he was quite competitive even for his first time sailing a Standard.

The first two races started with the boat heavily favored. In the first race I followed Finn around the first two legs, but was able to split upwind and find more wind and better shifts and got ahead and was able to hold that to the finish. In the second race, Finn and I both sailed out to the left side of the course and ended up past the layline and all I could do was follow him in to the mark. He was able to slip away down wind and I was never able to mount much of a challenge the rest of the race.

In the 3rd race Mike Toms joined us and made it more of a 3 way battle at the front. We stayed close most of the race and in the 2nd upwind I was able to get just enough ahead of them to finish 1st. By the 4th race the wind started to come up a bit and was definitely hiking conditions with some white caps. I followed Mike and Finn around the course, but was able to get inside of them on the final downwind mark rounding. Finn capsized on the 2nd downwind rounding allowing Mike to slip around him into 3rd.

In the final race the wind was up to at least 15 and the course was shortened to 2 laps. At the start both Mike and Finn started to leeward of me and I was able to cover them and push them out to the left side of the course past the layline. From there I just held my lead and didn’t make any mistakes to win the race and win the day.  I was great to see how much tighter the racing got with each race – by the last race all of us finished within a minute of each other and any slip would have meant going to the back of the pack.  Kudos to Trip, Dave and Britt who got much faster all day long.

All in all it was an awesome day of sailing and a great way to kick off the racing season at FBYC. Huge thanks to Glenn and Becca for heading up the RC for the day as well as to all of the folks who volunteer to help for the day.

RESULTS

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2019 Race City 400 Regatta

Lake Norman Yacht Club held their spring regatta and I was one of a dozen Lasers among the various other fleets sailing. This was a good shake down trip with the new VW Atlas cartopping set up and I got to visit and stay with college friends and check out a few spots in Charlotte.

On day one we sailed out to the course in nice wind, it shifted around a couple times and a race was started. The RC lost a minute in the starting sequence, but started anyway. The race would later be thrown out which was unfortunate because I had a good race and climbed my way up to first by the end. The wind would die by the end of that race and shift around for about an hour before finally settling in for another race.  In the second race of the day the wind built a bit.  I was in second place starting the last downwind leg and got passed downwind by two boats.  They both ended up colliding just before the finish resulting in a protest that I wound up participating in as a witness. The wind built a little more for the next two races before dying again in the last race of the day.

Being my first time out for the year I didn’t quite have super speed upwind.  I also struggled a bit to stay in the grove and shift gears while keeping my head out of the boat.  I suspect practicing with the old sail the prior weekend didn’t help me much and it also showed me I just needed more time in the boat.  My starts were generally pretty good and my downwind legs were typical for me.

Saturday, after the protest hearing was wrapped up I met Courtney and Preston at the US Whitewater Center just outside of Charlotte where the Tuck festival was going on.  The center has two man-made white water courses and a whole bunch of other trails and outdoor activities. For the festival there were bands play, vendors and all kinds of people there – thousands checking it all out.  We had a few beers and checked everything out before getting dinner out in Charlotte.

Sunday the wind started out a bit lighter, we sailed a race in light air where it died at the end, then one more race in brutally light air.  I sailed in while the fleet was postponed only to have them join me a half hour later. In the end we had 6 races that counted and I finished 6th overall.  It was great hanging out with Preston and Courtney and getting to meet a few more Laser sailors from NC. Lake Norman is always a great venue to sail at and I look forward to a lot more sailing this season.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2019 April Laser Practice

My first time sailing the laser for the year was on the last weekend in April and I had a nice sail into stiff wind out of the south at 16-20. I did some exploring and sailed 1h 45m upwind through Hills Bay to Queens Creek. I got to check out Jess’ parents place from the water.  The trip back broad reaching only took 40 minutes.

PICTURES

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Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship Trophy Stand

Ever since the Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship Trophy was completed in 2011 it never really took it’s place on display upstairs in the club house at Fishing Bay Yacht Club among the other trophies there. Primarily because it was too heavy to hang and there was no suitable place to prop it up and thus it lacked a stand. So my Dad and I recently made folding legs for the trophy using some of the left over wood from the original project. Now the trophy is on display in the club house just a few feet from where the old trophy used to hang next to the TV.

PICTURES

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2018 FBYC Laser Frostbite Regatta

My last Laser regatta of the year was the Frostbite Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. It was a perfect fall day with wind and water temperatures in the low 60’s, plenty of sun and wind 8-13. We had a fleet of 14 boat sailing to winds out of the ENE in Fishing Bay. I had some mediocre starts making it tough to get a good lane early in the first beat often leaving me mid-fleet at the first rounding. Downwind there would sometimes be some puffs to be had on either side, but this was a pretty good fleet downwind and with the lighter air their weren’t many passing lanes. Upwind I could usually pick up a boat or two and get myself back into the top 5 most races.

Paul Almany had his drone up and got some good video of the last two races.  My pictures are here as well as the results. Thanks to Jerry & Henry Latell and Bob Fleck for doing race committee and Frank Murphy for the after race chili.

PICTURES | RESULTS | DRONE VIDEO

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