Tuesday/Wednesday

We had an easy trip down to Florida splitting it up into two days and arriving Wednesday evening with a stop in South Carolina.

Ready for 4 days of what looks to be light-air sailing in St. Petersburg in a 41-boat ILCA 7 fleet.

Thursday

We don’t have a great prospect for wind in the next couple days, but there was 6-7 knots in the morning so we went out relatively on time. After a short postponement on the water they got the ILCA 7 fleet racing.

I had good start at the boat and made my way middle right. The left ended up paying even better, and I was mid-fleet at the top mark. The next leg was a reach and the wind started to drop a bit. We went downwind and then on the second upwind I went right and made up a few boats. I lost a couple downwind and managed to finish 26th.

The 4.7’s also got a race in and the 6 fleets were all abandoned in their races. We stayed out on the water for another hour and a half and with no wind they sent us in to postpone on short. A nice sea breeze filled around 4, but it was too little too late and racing was called for the day.

Friday

Another day without a great prospect for wind at the 2024 ILCA Midwinters in St. Petersburg. The RC was expecting a sea breeze to fill later in the afternoon so they postponed us on shore for a couple of hours with the plan to tow us 4-5 miles south where we’d likely find a sooner and stronger sea breeze.

We floated around for almost 2 hours with no sign of a sea breeze. Eventually they called it and towed us the 5 miles back in with no racing at all.

Saturday

Saturday was a repeat of Friday but with a little more wind. The RC again postponed us on shore until noon and then towed us to the race area 5 miles south. When we got there, we found enough light air to run a race and all of the fleets were started.

We had a light air race and the wind eased as we were raced. I didn’t have a great start and had a little trouble getting a clear lane, but once I did I stayed in it as long as I could up the middle of the course and rounded in top 15 with a nice gap behind me. I only lost a boat on the downwind and upwind and they shortened the course at the end of the reach to the outer course. Once the U-flags were processed I was given a 14th for the race.

With the wind dead, we stayed out on the course for an hour and a half hoping the sea breeze would fill. It eventually did very late in the day and given that the seven fleet had 2 races already and none of the other fleets did, they all got starts and there wasn’t enough time to sail us and we were sent in.

I got a fast tow in. Jess and I got to see St. Petersburg and went out to dinner on Central Ave.

Sunday

Sunday saw a line of strong storms rolling in during the morning and racing was postponed. It cleared in the afternoon with enough time to sail 2 races in windy conditions. We elected instead to do some tourist stuff in town and get an early start on the ride home.

Thanks to St. Petersburg Yacht Club for hosting the event. Check out the video here.

VIDEO | PHOTOS | RESULTS | EVENT WEBSITE

I recently digitized some old Laser Masters footage from the 2000 US Laser Masters. I was aboard the Judge boat for most of the event recoding on a Sony Hi-8 camera. It had been a while since I had seen this footage and it was great to be able to reminisce and remember the sailors who were there at the time and what Fishing Bay Yacht Club looked like with the old clubhouse.

As I processed the footage and spliced this together, I was amazed at the improvements to the software to be able to stabilize what was pretty shaky video at the time as well as the ability to clean up some of the audio.

I was also many years from being a master and yet I’m now older than many of the masters-age sailors at the time. Ooof. 

Check out the video and the event results can be seen here.

We had a really nice day for some practice aboard Todd’s J99 Battle Rhythm along with Kevin, Ron, and Ron’s wife Nancy. The wind was out of the NNE from 10 to about 16 while we were out there. We started with some compass and wind angle calibrations and then did some upwind sailing to the mouth of the Rappahannock where we could see all the boats up the river sailing in the Turkey Shoot Regatta while we tried different settings with the jib sheet leads.

When we were off Windmill point it was pretty waving and choppy and as we were setting the chute we took one huge wave over the bow soaking Todd who had gone forward to get the spinnaker ready. We also sailed through a pod of dolphins at one point.

Kevin, Ron, Jon, Todd, Nancy
Kevin, Ron, Jon, Todd, Nancy

With the chute up we had some really nice running conditions and got the boat planning a bit hitting over 10 knots a couple of times. As we got close to the Piankatank we did a few gybes and headed in for the day.

PICTURES | VIDEO

Ten ILCA joined 6 Flying Scots and 7 Melges 15 for an afternoon of sailing. The wind started out light in the 6-8 range and by the third race we had gusts into the mid teens.

In the first race didn’t start where I wanted to, but had a clear lane to tack out when I saw a shift and caught some nice wind before everyone else and had a nice lead for the first lap. On the second upwind, Noah was fast and I parked the boat in some waves right at the top mark while he sailed around me. Meanwhile Scott went around both of us and we finished that way.

ILCA Sailing down wind.

The wind picked up a bit for the second race while also going left making the legs a little one sided. Knowing it was going left I tried to win the pin. I won it a little too much and had to unwrap the board from the anchor line and spin and restart. Once i was clear I went a little bit right to find a clear lane. I was 4th by the top mark but all of the boats ahead of me went to the wrong mark downwind that was well past our turning mark. I was first to round the correct mark and led the rest of the race.

Jon hitting the mark at the start.
Hitting the mark on the start.

3rd race I went to the left and just didn’t have the consistent pressure as those on the right. Rounded 3rd and mostly stayed there. Wind was up to about 15 at one point in the race and then eased off.

For the 4th and final race I was in 2nd right behind Scott at top mark. He started to inch away downwind until halfway down the leg he flipped and lost of bunch of places. I had the lead the rest of the race and Mike held off Scott at the finish – leaving me and Scott tied with the same points AND the exact same finishes – my 3-1-3-1 to his 1-3-1-3 and so I won the tiebreaker on account of finishing ahead of him in the last race.

It was really fun racing and great mixing it up with Scott, Noah, Mike, William and the rest of the fleet. Thanks Tom R for race committee.

PICTURES | RESULTS | VIDEO

Chris T, Mark, Erin, Chad, Mayo, Todd, Jon & Chris aboard Excitation
Chris T, Mark, Erin, Chad, Mayo, Todd, Jon & Chris aboard Excitation

It had been 10 years since I last sailed the Down the Bay Race, also on Excitation and we were hoping for a little less excitement this time around from the high winds in that edition. We got what we wanted in Annapolis with a light air downwind start. With a storm off the South Carolina coast the wind from this area was being sucked south south. That storm would slowly move north and begin to impact the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday.

We were the 2nd class to start in PHRF-A and we had a front row seat to the ORC start 5 minutes ahead of us. Most boats were approaching on port with spinnakers ready or hoisted as they were approaching the line. Nanuq timed it perfectly coming in on Starboard at the pin and jibing just at the start and hoisting. This had the affect of causing their competition to give way and one of the boats already under spinnaker under port tack had to duck behind Nanuq, miss the pin and ultimately douse their spinnaker to get back upwind to the pin to start.

While we had considered a similar move, our much larger fleet would have made that more chaotic and given we were a symmetric boat, we wanted our spinnaker up below everyone else and took the wide open part of the line down by the boat. We had a good start just a few seconds late and had our spinnaker flying before we crossed the line.

We sailed downwind for a couple hours down the bay as the fleet stretched out and boats took different angles and lanes in the deeper or shallower water. We criss-crossed the bay sailing our angles under spinnaker – generally favoring the eastern side and the deeper water. We did 4 spinnaker changes and used all 3 spinnaker as the wind went up and down and we got pretty adept at pulling one spinnaker down, swapping the lines and putting the new one up in about a minute.

Mid afternoon we were still going down the eastern side of the bay and had a close rounding of the Sharp’s island mark. As we went west of it we noticed the boat Allegiant just on the other side of it and we radioed to them that they missed it. Within a few minutes they had their spinnaker down and were going back upwind to round it. Just after that, another boat radioed Raven who was even further east and they had an even longer slog back to the mark. We continued an easterly path down the bay sailing deep under our symmetrical spinnaker and caught up and passed some of the faster boats who had gotten ahead of us, and even one of the faster boats in the class ahead of us who all were much further west sailing asymmetrical spinnaker angles.

By early evening the wind was building and we had switched down to the smallest spinnaker. I was driving and I could see boats a mile or two ahead of us with upwind sails up going nearly the same angle we were headed. We quickly raised a genoa, dropped the spinnaker and soon the wind was dead and we hunted for a few minutes before continuing in the new wind.

By then we were approaching the Potomac and the wind continued to build. Just before dark the wind was starting to get into the teens and we switched down to the number 3 while we had daylight. We all took turns going below to change into our heavy gear for the night and we carried on across the mouth of the Potomac as the seas and wind built.

Another 20-some miles we were off the Piankatank and we retired from the race and turned in for our dock at Fishing Bay. With the storm south already making for winds in the 20-25 and possibly more by the time we got south, the fun factor wasn’t going to be there and risk to breaking something on the boat ahead of a big regatta the following weekend wasn’t worth it. We pulled in to our slip just before 1 and were all in beds at Mayo’s house by 2. In the morning we cleaned up the boat and took some of the crew to Hampton by car to retrieve their vehicles.

PICTURES | VIDEO | EVENT WEBSITE

FBYC’s Closing day race features a pursuit start distance race taking us on a tour around the mouth of the Piankatank and towards Fishing Bay. I was sailing aboard Mike Toms’ J105 and as one of the faster boats of the fleet we were one of the last to start. Winds were 12-18 out of the NNE and there wouldn’t be too many spinnaker legs.

Mike drove the start and the first upwind leg. We were able to quickly get by a couple of the boats that started just ahead of us. The next leg took us on a close reach back into the Piankatank towards #7 until the wind shifted and we could turn downwind and set the spinnaker. I was driving this leg while Clark was on the main pumping in the waves and getting us surfing when we could. The next leg south to 8 allowed us to get the spinnaker up and we did 1 jibe while in VMG mode before dousing the spinnaker around 8 for another close reach up the Piankatank keeping Nanuq well behind us. We picked off a few more boats before getting ot the turning mark at #13 and coming back the way we came.

Jon on the helm as we sail under spinnaker
Jon on the helm as we sail under spinnaker

Clark drove back while I worked on keeping the main trimmed and Mike T and Mike S worked on the jib. We passed the remaining boats except the two that remained just ahead of us. The final leg to the finish was from 8 back to B, almost in line with Jackson Creek entrance for about 1.25nm north. Knowing the direction of how the current came into the river we elected to come around 8 and continue on port towards Gwynn’s island before tacking to Starboard to fetch the finish.

Clark driving as we head back out of the Piankatank
Clark driving as we head back out of the Piankatank

When we tacked onto starboard it quickly became clear that the other boats that went left were being swept south by the current, vs where we were it was taking us west which wasn’t as bad. We just focused on our upwind speed and keeping the boat on our feet and managed to grind it upwind just a minute or two ahead of Nanuq at the finish for the win.

PICTURES | RESULTS

Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.
Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.

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.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | RESULTS | VIDEO

I was the PRO for FBYC’s Summer Seabreeze 2 regatta and the racers wanted a Caribbean theme so I changed a few racing rules to ensure the racing fit the theme.

  • We changed the definition of what constituted a mark so that we could use any inflatable – including a pink flamingo for our starting mark.
  • We changed the starting line to enable us to use a tiki torch for one end of the line
  • We required boats over early under I flag to do a Caribbean interpretive dance while only permitting them to clear by rounding the boat end of the line where their dance could be videoed for posterity
  • We also exempted boats wearing costumes from the clothing weight limits

At the skipper’s meeting the wind was blowing, but we knew the forecast was for it to die and so we postponed about an hour. When something did come, we picked the only spot in the middle of Fishing Bay that seemed to have a lane of wind. It was light, but we got 6 short races for the 6 flying Scots before the wind died.

Jon, Britt & Ruthana
Jon, Britt & Ruthana

I could not have done this without the help of Britt and Ruthana and huge thanks to them for being there today.

RESULTS | PICTURES | VIDEO