The Delta Dash was intended to be a bit of a middle distance race taking us out to the cut channel and down to Wolf Trap light covering roughly 40nm. The wind at 1pm when we were going to start was non-existent and so we postponed 40 minutes before the sea breeze filled they sent us on a much shorter 13nm course. We set out on the J99 Battle Rhythm with 3 other boats in our class – Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan.

J99 Battle Rhythm just after the start - Picture by Cathy Boe
Battle Rhythm just after the start – Picture by Cathy Boe

The first leg was upwind with the fleet crossing tacks towards Stingray Point light before tacking away from the shallow water. It took us a little bit to get settled and get the sail trim the way we wanted and we found we had really good boat speed relative to the boats around us even if we weren’t quite pointing with them. Ron and Chauncey were trimming jib while Holly and Dennis managed the front of the boat. Len was in the pit with me on main and Todd driving.

Sailing upwind on J99 Battle Rhythm in the mouth of the Piankatank.
In the mouth of the Piankatank tacking away from the shallows near the Stingray Point Light.

We headed further south thinking the current was going to take us away from the mark. Turns out we had the current wrong and was actually taking us towards the mark causing us to overstand and allowing the fleet to sail inside us and ahead at the mark. Excitation was over 8 minutes ahead of us as we headed upwind for 2nm on the 2nd leg.

Reaching to the finish with Corryvreckan just ahead and Excitation and Afterthought in the distance.

The last leg was a close reach back into the Piankatank – we set the spinnaker and slowly caught up to the boats ahead of us, but not nearly enough to catch them on corrected or on the course.

Len, Todd, Chauncey, Dennis and Holly

We learned some things – some new settings on the navigation system to help us identify laylines. We found better routing of the jib and spinnaker sheets through the blocks. We did a little more tinkering with the jib leads to improve the flow over the top of the sail. Thanks Todd for having us along and looking forward to the Smith Point race next month.

PICTURES | RESULTS

We had a super day for the FBYC One Design Long Distance Race. I was sailing an ILCA, one of 3 in the race, including one that sailed off a beach in Mathews to join us, against 10 other boats ranging from Melges 15s to Flying Scots to a Front Runner and a Rocket.

At the first starboard rounding just behind a Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.
At the first starboard rounding just behind a Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.

We started in Godfrey Bay and did a short leg upwind to #12 in the Piankatank in 8 knots out of the ENE. The first mark could be fetched from the start, but just barely so a boat end start was critical. I was a few seconds late following a Melges 15 who was a little early and bore off leaving a nice hole for me to start. Another ILCA was behind me and behind them was a Flying Scot.

Upwind I tried to hold my line and make the Flying Scot go around me. I ended up rounding 3rd as we headed east on an almost upwind angle to Piankatank #8. As we passed Stove Point the clear fetch enabled the wind to build to the low teens. My decision not to wear hiking pants didn’t seem so wise. The Front Runner passed me on this leg leaving me in 4th as we went nearly upwind again to FBYC-B just off Stove Point. Thus far everything has been almost upwind and I was in 5th as we turned to go back.

Nearing 8 a Garland's Melges 15 is right on my heels.
Nearing 8 a Garland’s Melges 15 is right on my heels.

The course in reverse was still a lot of reaching making it hard for the symmetrical boats to fly their chutes and even the asymmetrical spinnaker boats weren’t able to fly their chutes all of the way back. It was great reaching conditions for the ILCA and I was able to reel in the Front Runner and the Flying Scot on the long leg back to 12. Eventually 1 Melges 15 got around me and I was the 4th boat over the line behind 3 Melges 15s and corrected to 3rd overall.

Reaching back into the Piankatank in front of a couple of Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.
Reaching back into the Piankatank in front of a couple of Melges 15 and a Flying Scot.

Thanks to Lew and his team for running our races and congrats to Walker on a well sailed race.

RESULTS | PICTURES

FBYC’s Cut Channel race is unique in that the sailors get to decide which route to take around a pre-defined course choosing either ot go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The course goes out of the Piankatank across the bay to the cut channel, up or down it depending on the direction and then finishing back in the mouth of the Piankatank. With a southerly wind we though we could hold the spinnaker on two of the 3 main legs and that would make up for the time on the remaining short leg going upwind.

Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.
Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.

We had a good start just to leeward of Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan. Excitation chose the same clockwise route that we did while Afterthought, Corryvreckan and Chilcoot took the counter clockwise route. Once clear of the line we all hoisted spinnakers. Unfortunate, we put 5′ tear in the foot of ours which would need to be repaired on a subsequent leg.

The trip across the bay was uneventful and we settled in under spinnaker. We saw winds into the upper teens at times and it came back to the mid-teens closer to the other side. As we approached the turning mark to go upwind we made sure to take the chute down on the opposite side so we could put it back up more easily on a later leg.

 April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.
April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.

While on the upwind Todd and Barb worked down below on repairing the spinnaker while everyone else was on the rail going upwind. We started with a reef in and were making good speed upwind. The wind eased and we eventually shook the reef. I steered for the last 2/3 of the 6.8nm upwind leg. While we were also going upwind we passed the boats going downwind who were doing the counterclockwise course. It was pretty clear by then and started to sink in that there was no way we were going to make up the time on the remaining leg. Excitation was near us and wound up crossing tacks with them and they later rounded ahead of us.

After we rounded the southern mark we headed back to the mouth of the Piankatank under spinnaker. We were going good until we saw something suspicious with the main halyard and wanted to check on it so we proceeded to take the spinnaker and the main down to do so. We were able to re-hoist both and continued on finishing some 20 minutes after the leaders.

All in all was a fun day and learned some things about this course and the boat we’ll bring back for next time.

PICTURES | RESULTS

A little bit of upwind sailing aboard J99 Battle Rhythm in the lee of Stingray Point.
A little bit of upwind sailing aboard J99 Battle Rhythm in the lee of Stingray Point.

We got out for another day of practice on the J99 Battle Rhythm. This time Jess came along and this time we also had gusts into the low 30’s. We had 8 aboard and we went out into the mouth of the Piankatank and tested out our reef setup. We weren’t super happy with the fittings for the 2nd reef, so we sailed for a little bit under main only and ultimately headed in so we didn’t break anything. It was still good to see how things setup so we can make adjustments for when we really needed it. We did get to pull the jib out for a few minutes when we got into the lee of the land. We also got to see some porpoises and skates. Jess had a good time and enjoyed getting out on a big boat for the first time in a couple years.

Jon & Jess aboard Battle Rhythm
Jon & Jess aboard Battle Rhythm

PICTURES

Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.
Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.

After threats of rain all week for this evening and even an afternoon shower a few hours before race time we ended up with beautiful weather and windy conditions for FBYC’s 2022 Moonlight Race. I was sailing with Mike S, Hunter, Clark and Mike T aboard his J105 Moo Hoos. The course would send us out into the bay, north the the mouth of the Rappahannock and then back into the Piankatank near Stove Point. There would be 2 starts with us as one of the 6 boats in the PHRF fleet and 3 in the cruising fleet.

Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.
Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.

We had arguably the best start of the fleet with a couple boats boxed out at the boat, we hit the line right on time a boat length down from the boat end. Unfortunately, Afterthought, a J109 able to point much higher then our shoal draft 105, was below us and forced us to tack away and in doing so we had to quickly duck Mad Hatter. That didn’t end up being too bad of a move as we got a nice lift and 1/2 mile later when we converged on the weather mark we were just ahead of Mad Hatter and just behind Afterthought.

Afterthought changing head sails.
Afterthought changing head sails as we sailed by out of the Piankatank.

From there it was another mostly upwind starboard tack as we headed out of the Piankatank and into the bay. Afterthought was overpowered and went for a headsail change while we were able to slip by them. When we got to the next mark we could see the current was ripping up the bay so we elected to tack and go south to stay out of the current before heading east to the next mark. While that was generally a good move, we took it too far and vastly over stood allowing several boats to ‘cut the corner’ so to speak and round ahead of us. All of this upwind sailing was in winds in the upper teens. We had a class jib up and a full main and worked to feather the main and steer between the waves while keeping the boat flat. Sitting on the rail we got drenched a couple times when we hit some of the larger waves.

Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us.
Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us (for now).

By the time we hit the far mark the sunlight that remained was gone and it would be a reach for several miles up into the mouth of the Rappahannock. We could see ahead that none of the boats were flying a spinnaker – we thought pretty hard about it but the wind was just a little too far forward to flying it in the dark. We still made quite a bit of ground up and could see both Red Sky and Mad Hatter on the next upwind leg and were just about crossing tacks with them. By the time we passed Stingray Point Light and rounded the last mark back into the Piankatank we were just ahead of Red Sky and just behind Mad Hatter. We were able roll Mad Hatter and by the finish we were able to get our time on Afterthought, but not on most of the rest of the fleet.

It was a fun race followed by ice cream and rum. Thanks Mike for having me along and to Tom R, Blackwell, Randy and Brad for being our race committee.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

I was able to make 2 of the 3 days of Southern Bay Race Week at Hampton Yacht Club sailing aboard Excitation – a Farr-Dickerson 37 from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We went out to light winds on Saturday and sailed on the north side of the James just west of the Hampton River. There were so many crab pots in this area the RC had trouble finding places to anchor. We spent the entire day of racing dodging these.

On the starting line near Tradition.
On the starting line near Tradition.

The wind started light, we kept the boat powered up and going fast. We were the longest, heaviest and tallest boat in our fleet and in these light winds we could point higher and sail faster and this was quite an advantage at the start allowing us to start almost any where we wanted. We tended to take conservative starts and wound up being a few seconds late, but this kept us out of traffic and enabled us to pick a lane and easily sail through any boats around us.

With so many other fleets on the course not only did we have crab pots to look out for, but we also had traffic from other legs of the fleet – either the tail end of the fleet ahead or other fleets around the course. With the spinnaker in particular this made it hard to work on our speed since we were always adjusting our course. The first two races went well and

Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.
Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.

As the wind built in the 3rd and 4th race we switched to smaller sails. We struggled a little bit in the 3rd race of the day and redeemed ourselves in the final race and finished 1-1-3-1 for the day.

We enjoyed a great crew dinner Saturday night and I crashed on the boat the club.

Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.
Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.

On Sunday we had more wind for 2 more races and thankfully a clearer sailing area. The increased wind made it harder for us to de-power while being right in the sweet spot for a few other boats and we didn’t enjoy the speed advantage that we did the day prior. We were also without our bowman and with one fewer crew member meant I was going forward more often to help out. It was still a good day of sailing and we went easy with the spinnaker keeping our gybes down. We finished 2-5 on Sunday and ended up 2 points out of 2nd place.

All in all a great weekend and thanks to Mayo for having me along! Great sailing sailing with the crew and a fun weekend.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS

Sunday was the distance race day for Fishing Bay Yacht Clubs Offshore Spring Invitational. We started in the mouth of the Piankatank just east of Stove Point with light winds 6-8 knots. We would have a downwind start with all of the fleets starting at the same time. We were a little late to the start, but this was a conservative approach to allow us to pick our spot and stay clear of the other boats.

Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.
Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.

Once we had our spinnaker up and were clear of other boats we made our way east into the bay. We thought we were going to a mark further out into the bay, but as we passed another mark along the way boats ahead started rounding it. We quickly realized our error in what we thought the course was and adjusted our course to follow the other boats without really loosing any distance. I mostly trimmed spinnaker and eventually started training Ryan to stand in for me. Late in the leg I drove while Mayo worked on navigating. We had to sail a really tight angle with the spinnaker up while the asymmetrical boats were barreling down on us from behind with pressure. We just didn’t want to have to drop to a head sail only to need the spinnaker right back up for the next leg.

Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.
Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.

As we reached the 2nd mark, we had a well executed gybe around it and headed north dead downwind to get to the 3rd mark. Many other boats mostly with asymmetrical spinnakers tried to play the angles and we just we went more downwind on the rhumb line for just under 2 miles. We ended up sailing inside of Nanuq and had a nice lead coming into the mark. When we got there we didn’t want to do an extra gybe so we executed a windward takedown which nobody on this boat had ever done before aside from me and Chris who had done it on other boats. We did it early in case it went badly and it went so well we were under powered sailing wing on wing for the final minute into the mark.

Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.
Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.

By the time we rounded the northern most mark the wind had gone down to 7-8 knots and we elected to go to the light #1. As we sailed upwind back to the finish we would find ourselves significantly overpowered with this sail up. About 2/3 of the way to the finish the soft shackle holding the jib sheet to the sail let go, so we came to a stop and quickly fixed that and got going again. Now with the wind in the upper teens and hitting 20 we really wanted to get a smaller sail up so we tried to do a sail change on a tack, but had problems using the second headsail track and ended up having to do a bare-headed sail change. These two maneuvers allowed Nanuq to sail right by us and we ended up finishing 2nd a little over 2 minutes behind them on corrected time.

All in all it was a great weekend of sailing. We sailed well, we got better at the roles we had, we tried some new moves and didn’t break anything that costs $$. This was a great tune up for Southern Bay Race Week coming up in two weeks.

RESULTS | PICTURES

Saturday was the first day of a two day Spring Invitational for Offshore boats at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. The format was to do buoy racing on Saturday and have a government mark distance race on Sunday. The weather was light but otherwise perfect for an early season day of racing aboard Excitation – Mayo’s Farr/Dickerson 37.

Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts.
Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts

1st race good start at the boat. Nanuq was over early and had to go back. We did a hitch to the right to put some space between the other boats and continued up the middle of the course. We were first around the mark, had a good set and stayed ahead of the fleet downwind. We had another good upwind and held off Nanuq and Corryvreckan (who both owed us time) to win the race on the course and on corrected time. I was the floater on board helping with navigation/tactics and trimming the spinnaker.

Spinnaker trimming
Spinnaker trimming

In the second race the wind built a little bit, but still within the range of the light #1 we were using. We were a little late at the start and as a result had to do a few more tacks after the start to either clear our air or avoid starboard tackers. At the top mark we rounded 4th behind Nanuq, Corryvreckan and Sting. Despite a problem with the lazy spinnaker sheet, we still had a pretty good set. Downwind we made up some ground on Nanuq and sailed deep and passed Corryvreckan and Sting. Upwind we favored the right side of the course out of the current and switched down to the ‘heavy’ #1 as the wind continued to build – now in the 8-10 knot range. We held our position and worked on narrowing the gap with Nanuq – but at the finish we wouldn’t be able to make up our time and finished 2nd.

Sailing downwind on Excitation.
Sailing downwind on Excitation.

By the 3rd race the wind picked up and we were seeing winds in the mid-teens. We made the decision to switch to the #3 and just as we went to raise it as the starting sequence was initiated – the sail partial came out of the track while it was being hoisted. It came out in such a way that we were either going to damage it, or we would have to disassemble part of the track to get it back. Given those choices and the fact that we were in the starting sequence – there was no way we were going to disassemble it without damaging it and make the start and so we decided to retire. Disappointing not to sail the 3rd race as we were in contention to win the day with a good result. We’ll be back for the distance race tomorrow.

RESULTS | PICTURES

For FBYC’s One Design Spring Series #2 I was invited to sail on John Hubbard’s Melges 15. This was only the second time the fleet has raced at FBYC and is a new fleet at the club this year. By summer there should be at least a dozen boats at the club once deliveries are made.

We had a 4-boat fleet along with Mandalorian (Rob & Reed), Osprey (Paul & Josh) and Big Z (Mark, Georgia and Noah) and light winds out of the east. The course was set in Fishing Bay with the weather mark due west of the end of Stove Point point and the course to the west of that. John and I did some practice before the start. Working through tacks and putting the spinnaker up for some gibes. I was really impressed with the space on this boat and the simplicity of the systems and ease of which they are used. Having been on so many other boats of this size – it really stood out how simple this boat was. It was also very stable – one person walking onto the boat didn’t make it unstable, but two people hiking certainty mattered for weight placement. As a crew, even in light air, when I’d be sitting opposite the helm or siting in the middle of the boat, it still left me places to crouch or sit without being on top of something uncomfortable. The rigid boom vang mounted above the boom that pushes down also clears up a ton of space for the crew to sit forward without constantly ducking a vang line.

Boats duck behind at a Melges 15 start
Just after a start

In the first race, we were a few seconds late to the line and didn’t exactly pick a great line upwind. We rounded the first mark behind Osprey and Mandalorian. Downwind we sailed low and fast and closed the gap a bit. When we got to the leeward mark we were just close enough to have an inside overlap on both boats and rounded ahead to go upwind. On this leg we went right thinking we’d have more pressure and Mandalorian went left and got a better lift rounding well ahead of us. We again had great speed downwind and caught up to Mandalorian but ran out of runway finishing 1/2 a boat length behind them.

FBYC Melges 15 Race 1 finish just behind Mandalorian
Race 1 finish just behind Mandalorian

In the second race we were again a little late at the pin end of the line and tried to get right, but boats were there and we had to do a few tacks to clear ourselves. Mandalorian sailed a great race and was clear ahead followed by Osbrey. Downwind we were able to catch and pass Osprey, but couldn’t catch Mandalorian who rounded the leeward mark and started going going upwind. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Mandalorian – it was only a 1 lap race and we were the first boat over the finish. Mandalorian corrected himself and finished behind Osprey.

Race 2 finish
Race 2 finish

In the 3rd race we had a great start at the boat. We worked our way up the middle of the course picking our way through the Flying Scot fleet coming downwind. We even started to improve our boat handling and roll tacking the boat. We were just behind Osprey and Big Z at the top mark. We were able to sail lower and put a gybe in taking us back toward the middle of the river and gybed back coming in on starboard and inside at the leeward making Big Z gybe away and round behind us. Upwind we played a loose cover and were able stay ahead to finish first.

Last leg of the 3rd race leading downwind.
Last leg of the 3rd race leading downwind.

In the 4th race we had another good start at the boat with the other two remaining boats (Osprey and Big Z) starting at the pin. We again played the shifts in the middle and were able to round the first mark in 1st with Osprey just behind us. Upwind we stayed close and we reached the mark first, but had some trouble with the set and Osprey sailed high and right around us. We tried to gybe for better air but Osprey ended up with more pressure and stayed well ahead leaving us with a 2nd.

It was really fun to get to try sailing a Melges 15. Huge thanks to John for having me aboard and thanks to Mike, Rick, Clark and Frank for RC today.

PICTURES | RESULTS

We had a light-air day for the first day of ILCA sailing at Fishing Bay Yacht Club for the ILCA Spring Regatta. We shared the course with the Flying Scots and first race at FBYC of the Melges 15.

I had a good start in the first race and held my speed against Reed and Scott. Near the top mark I went the wrong way and rounded behind both of them. Holly was just behind. Downwind I caught up and passed Scott at the mark and then on the second long upwind he went left while I went right into even less wind allowing Scott to get back ahead and stay there to the finish.

Jon start the race in an ILCA at the port end of race 2.
Port end start of race 2.

In the second race the ILCA were started with the Melges 15. I started down at the pin to keep boats from port-tacking the fleet.

For the second race – the ILCA were started with the Melges 15. From there it was just following the other ILCA around the course. What we didn’t do, however, is follow the Melges 15 around the course. This was the first day for many of those sailors in those boats, though it was interesting to see their speed in such light air.

Jon at the start of the 3rd race.
Jon at the boat end near the during the start of the 3rd race.

In final race the ILCA were started together with the remaining Flying Scots and the Melges 15. The wind was continuing to die and we just needed to get racing on al already shortened course. At the start I creeped up to the line at the boat end and just got there a little too soon and had to wait for the fleet to sail away so I could duck and clear my OCS. The rest of the race went much like the rest, the ILCA sailed out ahead of the other fleets upwind and I was still unable to catch Reed or Scott and finished 3rd for the 3rd time today. It was a nice day to shake the cobwebs out and thanks to David H and the RC for getting us as much racing as the wind would allow.

PICTURES | RESULTS