Sailboat Racing

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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2021 ILCA Nationals: Thursday

Old Dominion University and Norfolk Yacht and Country Club are hosting the 2021 ILCA US National Championship this weekend. Today was my travel day to have a nice easy afternoon drive to Norfolk to check in.

There are a few interesting new high-tech touches to this regatta I hadn’t seen before:

  • QR Codes for safety checks in and out of the water
  • Zoom skippers meeting the night before racing starts
  • Sail inspection done by photo upload to online form

Following check-in I had some time to explore so I drove down to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has some trails and some beautiful unspoiled beaches. Unfortunately, most of it was closed so I was able to run most of in 20 minutes and then walked a bit on the one part of the beach that was open.

This evening was the skippers meeting and racing starts tomorrow.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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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.

MORE PICTURES

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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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