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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week I had planned on sailing on Excitation, but FBYC was in need of a PRO for the first Spring Series race day and it was a chance for me to jump in and volunteer. I’m super appreciative of all of the people who joined us, particularly those last minute.
We had 10 boats total and took the 2 fleets just south of the Stingray Point light to race into a SE breeze at 10-14 knots. After a short postponement to lengthen the line we got both fleets started on a 1.25nm course. By midway into the race the wind would ease a bit to 8-12 where it would stay for the rest of the day. Thankfully the wind didn’t change direction and enabled us to leave the course set or both races making it easy on us.
Cheeky Monkey had a fast sail in the first race. The Nanuq team was sailing like a well-oiled machine nailing their maneuvers on this early season race day. Excitation would put in a solid effort and Mad Hatter had a good day to win the PHRF-BC fleet.
A couple things I learned or were reinforced as a PRO – it was really critical to have a conversation with the two fleet leaders before we went out so we could talk about the length of course, sailing area, number of races and timing of the races. We also discussed some options should expected changes happen. This made it easy on us so we knew what to expect and was great for the racers as they got exactly what they wanted and knew why we did what we did.
Thanks again to Cathy, Donna, Vera, Carol, Rick, John K, Joe R and Wade for all of their help on RC making it a great day for the racers.
Fishing Bay Yacht Club had a gorgeous day in April to open the season. After a flag raising 7 boats in 3 classes headed out for 10nm race out into the bay and back to shake out the cobwebs and get the season started. Sailing out on Mad Hatter we had 7-10 knots of wind out of the ESE. All of the boats were starting at the same time and even though Nanuq and Sting were technically in the PHRF-A class and we were in the PHRF-B/C class – we saw them as the boats to beat on corrected time.
We got into sequence and the race committee realized there was a mistake in the posted course so we postponed for a moment while they fixed it and went into sequence again. At the start we along with Nanuq, and Schiehallion were over early and all had to go back. This gave Sting a bit of a head start. The fleet could largely lay the first mark and the leg to the second mark was more upwind. We went right and inshore with Sting while Nanuq went left and out in to the bay. When we all came back together Sting was ahead and Nanuq just behind. By the time we got out into the bay the wind was much lighter and were were going just 3-4 knots. At that mark we turned and put up a chute and had a pretty straight shot past the mark we started with and then onto the finish. We wouldn’t have to gibe. Nanuq with the longer waterline and an asymmetrical sail was able to get ahead of us, but wouldn’t make up her time on correction. Wendas who was well behind us on the course would end up correcting over us by around a minute to win the B/C fleet.
I was pit and floater for the day, helping with tactics, monitoring the radio, trimming the guy and moving around to keep weight in the right spot. I also brought a couple cameras with me and got some footage aboard.
Over the years I’ve had a wide variety of methods for transporting Lasers around. Everything from 2x4s on the roof of a van to aluminum trailers specifically built to lasers to a giant van the laser went inside of. I’m back to cartopping a Laser and my new vehicle is a 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SUV. Back when I had a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen – I learned what worked pretty well for cartopping and here’s what I’ve recreated for the Volkswagen Atlas.
Thule Bars, end Caps
These hold the boat – I like to get bars longer than the boat is wide to make it easy to tie the boat down and leave room for the spars out the side. The 78″ ones are more than enough and I could likely cut them down if I wanted a little less likely of catching something. 78″ is exactly the width of the Atlas from the edges of each side view mirror. The end caps don’t do much other than make it cleaner. Good quality pads are needed to protect the boat. I’ve got 2 20″ Dorsal pads on each bar. Thule makes 18″ ones and there are a variety of alternatives. These also have the effect of cutting down on wind noise when a boat is not present.
It seems that since I originally set this up in 2019 that Thule is no longer selling the longer version of the Load Bars (LB78 or LB65). Look for alternatives of an appropriate length.
These will be a bit more specific to the vehicle. For both of my vehicles that had a roof rack that ran fore/aft these universal feet were able to grip around them. Note they also must match the roof bars, so if you get different bars, be sure to get the feet that match. These feet have a rubber coated metal strap that goes underneath the bar to secure it. The end cap has a built-in allen wrench used for tightening them. The end caps themselves seem a little loose without the lock cylinders so a set of those is necessary and to ensure the rack doesn’t disappear. Tip: if you think you would use other Thule products, buy extra lock cylinders so they are identically keyed or visit a vendor in the future who will sell matching cylinders. (If buying the paddle holders – go for the 8 or 10 pack so everything keys the same)
These paddle holders are great for transporting spars – they are big enough to go around 3 spars at a time – lower, upper and boom. With the Jetta when I traveled with the Radial lower I just put it in the car. With the Atlas I wanted the ability to travel with the Radial lower and a spare upper, so that’s why I have the extra wide bars and got two sets of Paddle Holders. Note in the picture the inner set are backwards, I ended up having to turn these around so the tightening strap pulls away from the vehicle in both sets. The lock cylinders can also be put on these – the paddle holders will hold the spars securely without locking, the locks just prevent anything from disappearing.
Spars can be transported without a cover just fine – they just get a little buggy on long trips. I prefer to use the spar bag to keep them clean and make it easier to load and unload 1 thing instead of 3. Be sure to tuck in the extra material and handles to keep things from flapping.
There’s two ways I like to tie the boat down – two straps over the hull where the roof bars are. These are made rather tight and do 100% of the work of keeping the boat on the car. The forward one should be forward of the max beam of the boat so if the boat does slide forward, the strap is smaller than the beam and the boat can’t slide through it. These straps have rubber to protect the boat and easily cinch the strap tight. The loose end of the strap gets tucked into the cover on the underside.
The other straps I use attach to the bow eye and the rudder gudgeons. These are not intended to be super tight and do very little to keep the boat on the car. They are really just there for emergency use in case another strap fails or the rack itself fails – this will keep the boat with the car – and limit damage to the boat, car or anyone else. I don’t like making this tight so that it doesn’t ‘bend’ the boat over the car nor put a lot of stress on the bow eye or gudgeons for long periods of time while the boat is racked. Thule makes a set of quick ties that use a ratchet system with some hooks to easily attach and tighten them. It comes with some webbing straps – I attach these to the boat before putting the covers on and slip them out the holes in the cover before putting the boat on the roof so they can be easily hooked to.
Thule and other sell Aero bars – but these are sold to a width matching the roof bars and cannot extend much beyond that – making them less suitable for the Laser with the spars on the side. They would work boat only. And it’s not possible to just buy a wider bar than compatible for the vehicle, they won’t fit – I tried.
Thule LoadBar is different than the SquareBar and the LoadBar appears to be a product they are starting to do away with.
Put the spars on the driver side so when making a quick stop to check things, it doesn’t require walking all the way around the car.
Yakima has a line of roof bars that are also widely used.
Another accessory I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of is a bike rack. Great for taking a bike along when rigging or camping just a little away from the clubhouse and a great way to get around when parking is tight.
Our adventure with the Strange Bird Snipe came to and end 5 years to the day it started in 2016. The bird flew to North Carolina to be with a new owner and hopefully be sailing on Kerr Lake in 2022. Refurbishing the bird was a fun project over the years and Jess and I had some fun sailing it together at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. Hopefully the bird will see a little more use with a new owner!
Saturday was FBYC’s Closing Day Regatta – this is usually the traditional end of the season weekend with big boats sailing a pursuit race on Saturday followed by oysters. Then we sail ILCA on Sunday in our final race of the day. With a low pressure off the coast, there is forecast wind all weekend. We ultimately canceled the ILCA regatta for Sunday though it wasn’t enough to cancel the offshore race.
I was sailing with Mike Toms on his J105 Purple Wahoos. Aboard with us were a number of Mike’s friends from college and one other sailor we picked up on the dock. Being a pursuit race and being the 2nd fasted boat by rating, we had a late starting time and didn’t leave the dock until after the rest of the fleet. The race had already been postponed 30 minutes due to wanting to set a new course that would keep us a little more protected in the Piankatank. In the open water of the bay the wind was gusting over 30. Where we ended up sailing we had some gusts into the 20’s but was mostly in the mid to high teens for most of the race. The wind was out of the NNE.
We hit our starting time on a broad reach as we sailed south and then west up the Piankatank. We slowly caught up to boats ahead like GOIN and Morningtide. As we got to the turn around spot up the river the wind was predictably lighter and this is where we encountered most of the rest of the fleet. We eventually got around Mad Hatter and Sting.
As we approached Fishing Bay we slowed a bit to put a reef into the main sail knowing this was the last opportunity we’d have to do this before sailing into more wind and the last leg was going to be relatively upwind. I had done main for most of the race and swapped with Mike and drove the bit of the race after needing a break from all of the sheet adjustments on the main to keep the right heel and speed.
On the final beat we were in 4th with Shenanigan just ahead of us and Corryvrekan and Sting just behind us. We were slowly able to pick off Shenanigan, but Corryvreckan came from behind to finish ahead of us leaving us in 4th overall.
Given the wind and conditions it was great being on the water and we made the most of what we had. It was a fun way to end the season followed by an Oyster Roast at the club.
After over a week of preparation it was time for the 40th Annual Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship. This year was quite easy compared to the stress of last year and running an event during the pandemic and planning it not knowing if we would be able to have it. And being the 40th – we had a couple special things planned to commemorate it.
Not only was I running the event, but I also sailed in it. I don’t tend to treat this as a serious competitive event for myself as my attention is often on on running it, but it’s not often I have a chance to test my mettle against 51 boats of great competition on my home waters, so I try to put up a good showing. With that being said – I didn’t get off to a great start in the first race having fouled Luke just off the starting line and was behind almost everyone after doing my turns. I spent the rest of race focused on staying in clear air and pressure and picking shifts. It helped that there were a lot of boats ahead of me and on all sides of the course to see the angles on upwind and help figure out where to go. I picked well and was able to pick my way through the fleet to finish 3rd. I probably wouldn’t have finished that well had I not had such a bad start and had to watch everyone else.
In the second race I got rolled shortly after the start and shoved out the back and never recovered. I didn’t have a good feel for the boat likely due to sailing in dirty air. There were only 3 boats behind me at the 1st weather mark and I was only able to climb up to 21st by the end.
In the 3rd race I had a great start and even though I was around some of the fast boats, I was able to stay ahead in clear air. I managed to race with the lead pack most of the way around the course swapping positions at times. I was 6th at the bottom mark before the final upwind leg to the finish. I stayed left and picked off several boats, but got passed by Scot and Adam who passed everyone else to win it. James sailed into a hole allowing me and David to catch up with David finished just ahead of James and me just behind. The wind got pretty light at the end and a 4th place finish left me in the top quarter of the fleet after the first day of racing.
At dinner we celebrated 40 year with Alain telling us the story of how the regatta was started and we had several special guests who sailed in the event that first year. A group of regulars also presented a perpetual trophy to be awarded to the first woman.
The forecast Sunday wasn’t nearly as good as the day prior, but we were determined to sail if there was wind. We sailed out in light wind and got one light air race started. I played the middle-left on the first beat and rounded the first mark in 5th, proceeded to go the wrong way downwind, lost a few boats and finished 9th overall. We stayed out on the water for over an hour hoping the wind would come for another race, but it never did settle in and we pulled the plug and sailed in.
David Waiting won the Championship for the 2nd time – a well-sailed event having not even won a race among some stiff competition. Huge thanks to Rick Klein and the RC for getting us racing and to Alain for another great dinner!
Fishing Bay’s ILCA Fall Regatta started windy in the 12-15 knot range and gusty though not quite surfing conditions downwind. I focused on my starts and mostly had good starts towards the boat. As the day went on we eventually found 2 different winds on the course – a more lefty and gusty breeze in the middle of the river, and sometimes a much more right and sometimes puffy breeze on the right. The timing to go right was key, miss it and you were toast, hit it right and you were golden. Generally the left did ok until it didn’t. The closed start/finish line made the downwind legs more of a course and a little less tactical.
In the final race wind was down a bit, I was starting at the pin as i saw more wind to the left, only as the final minute counted down I could see the wind going even more left – so far that I would be able to port tack the fleet if I could just put some space between myself and David. I pulled the trigger just right and tacked ahead of him by 4-5 boat lengths and lead the rest of the way around. Also sailed with a closed start/finish line which meant sailing more of a course downwind rather than picking the optimal wind/wave direction.
It was great having some Annapolis sailors come join us – great practice for them on the waters of next weekends’ masters regatta.