Sailboat Racing

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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2020 FBYC Laser Fall Regatta

We ended up with an awesome day of racing for Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s Laser Fall Regatta – it was fun sailing despite the drizzle most of the day. I ended up 4th after loosing the tiebreaker.

The drizzle was a blessing in disguise. It wet the tell tails causing them to stick to the sail all day long. Having not sailed the boat and being out of practice – I didn’t have a good feel for the boat and not having tell tales forced me to feel the boat and not rely on them.

The fleet we had was fantastic – everyone sailed well and was fun to sail with. The fleet was deep too – with a lot of passing in the top 10 in any given race. Evan H was great in his return to the Laser. Dave W was consistently just a little faster and always in the right spot on the critical first beat.

Several sailors from Severn Sailing Association made the trip and made a mini weekend out of it staying in town tonight and driving back to Annapolis in the morning. All of them are returning next weekend for the 39th Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters.

Bob F ran a great RC, the length of the line challenged us and he made adjustments as teh wind shifted a bit and got lighter. Clark and Jen were on point in the Parker.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2020 FBYC Laser Summer Regatta II

The forecast looked a little bleak for FBYC’s Laser Summer Regatta in August, but the wind did come in and we had a great fleet to sail with. We sailed 5 races in about 8-10 most of the day.

Luke sailed really well and was consistently fast and in front. David H was also always in the right spot on the course able to just pull away anytime he was with some traffic. Rob also had a great day and was followed by me and Britt.

The starting line most of the day was very long for such a short course making it pretty critical to start at the favored end which happened to be the pin. This also led to some over early boats and eventually we started under the Z-flag. Britt did well to buck this and went right when everyone else was going left and managed to catch the shifts and round with the top group most races. I tried this in one of the last races and was too far behind to catch up.

RESULTS

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2020 July 4th FBYC Long Distance Race

This year Jess and I sailed lasers in the FBYC One Design Division Long Distance Race. All of the smaller boats <24′ waterline sail using the Portsmouth handicap system in a race that covers a total of 7-8 miles in the Piankatank River.

We had a variety of boats in the fleet from Lasers, Radials, Flying Scots, a Weta and a few J70’s. The 70s would be fast and the off-angle sailing under asymmetrical spinnakers would really give them a chance to pull away.

The start set the boats off on port tack eastward down the river. The rest of the fleet all came barging in on port tack at the pin and I did a starboard dip line start and forced all of them to give me room and Nostalgia had to circle around and restart. The J70 Billy Buff started just behind me and I was able to pinch them off and slow them down before they eventually went under and around me.

The wind held at a steady 9-11 knots out of the north east. The course took us towards Gywnn’s island, around #8 and then towards the entrance to Jackson creek. It then doubled back and then went ~3 miles west up the river and then back to Godfrey Bay.

I kept up best I could with the Flying Scots and stayed ahead of the Weta while the J/70’s sailed pretty far into the distance.

Following racing as we were packing up the boat the scorer walked by and let me know that after the handicaps were computed, I tied for 3rd with Billy Buff and we both beat Nostalgia by 2 seconds. Just goes to show that starting on starboard made a difference between 3rd and 5th.

RESULTS

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