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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Saturday was FBYC’s Cut Channel Race. I would have liked to sail but I needed some time in the ILCA ahead of nationals next weekend. I spent about 2 hours sailing in 15-20 knots with some 3 foot waves in places and a light drizzle of rain.

I also got a few photos of the start of the Cut Channel Race:

At the start only two boats were in position to hit the line on port headed for the next mark of the course. Many boats started on starboard, barely laying the starting line and way down at the boat end and were 10+ boat lengths behind immediately. The weather eventually cleared and they had a nice sail though I was long done and ashore by the time the fleet finished.

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Portland Head Light
Portland Head Light

On our final day we got Lobster Rolls in Muscongus Bay before making the drive to Portland where we checked out the Portland Head Light before catching our flight home. Driving through Portland – we were surprised at parts of it reminded us of the architecture in Church Hill in Richmond. It was certainly a fun trip and thanks to Laurie and John for having us along and showing us around!

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Saturday took us on a ferry trip to a island just off the coast called Monhegan Island. The island is a fishing village a couple miles off the coast and is 1.75 miles long by .75 mi wide and has just 60 year round residents. In the summer a number of inns and rental houses have many times that staying there. The island draws everything from day trippers like us to artists who come for the summer for inspiration.

The ferry took about an hour and was a little breezy on the top deck. When we got to the island we walked through ‘town’ and hiked along the south and east coasts. We saw rock shorelines, a ship wreck and cliffs.

Hiking back through the middle of the island we went past a beautiful light house and had a gorgeous view of the inhabited side of the island.

Monhegan Island Light House
Monhegan Island Light House

We walked through a little more of the town and stopped at Monhegan Island Brewing before catching the ferry back at the end of the day.

Hardy III just off Monhegan Island
Hardy III

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Friday took us to Acadia National Park where we hiked Jordan Pond and Bubbles. We wanted to go up Cadillac but didn’t have a reservation and were tuned away. We stopped by Sand beach and hiked to Thunder Hole and back.

Jordan Pond
Jordan Pond trail
Sand beach
Sitting on the rocky shoreline between Sand Beach and Thunder Hole

For dinner we went into Bar Harbor and had a great meal, some Ice Cream on the waterfront and checked out some of the shops.

Bar Harbor water front
Bar Harbor at sunset

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