We had a nice evening and 6 boats out for Friday evening sailing at FBYC. I jumped aboard John’s Flying Scot along with Mary while a couple Melges 15s and a ILCA and Opti were out.
The Canadian Wildfires made it quite hazy and there were storms looming to the west that never quite threatened. We had a pleasant sail in 8-12 knots and got to try out all of the sails despite a spinnaker pole that had a stuck jaw.
Jess and I got to spend some time with my family at the outer banks including my sister and her family who flew in from the west coast. We got a fair bit of rain, but made the most of the beach days.
I also go to do some paddle boarding – the first two days on the ocean where I saw dolphins swimming around. The second two days were in Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve on some of the canals and marshes there.
On the last day, Jess and I drove down the island, did some shopping and visited Sam & Omies for lunch before the drive home.
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.
Saturday in Deltaville started overcast with winds in the 8-15 range out of the NNW as we were starting the first race out in the mouth of the Piankatank. We had a new sail on Excitation and worked on getting it dialed in during the first race. Downwind we sailed well to stay ahead of most of the boats that were faster, sailed a clean race and finished 1st on corrected time.
In the second race of the day, the wind eased off leaving us with 8-10 at the start. On the first beat we were going tack for tack with Nanuq until we got to the last .2 to the weather mark and they lee bowed us near the layline forcing us to tack to clear. By then they laid the mark and the wind died and then they were gone. The next 3 legs would see the wind go down to 2 and Nanuq would go on to finish 50 minutes ahead us us as we drifted around leaving us in 4th.
Sunday saw much better wind for a distance race. Heading out to the course we had 13-18 knots of wind and after a short upwind we went on a close hauled reach out into the bay. Next was an upwind followed by another close reach, followed by another upwind and finally a long close reach to the finish. The tight reaching angles didn’t favor us with symmetrical spinnakers. We put up a very flat, small spinnaker and it did well in the reaches, but on the final long leg to the finish as the wind went behind us and start to get light, it just wasn’t enough sail and we weren’t setup for anything other than a bare-headed change. In the end we finished 3rd. It was great to get more time with that sail setup as we prepare for a 120nm distance race down the bay next weekend. We also got some of the instruments better setup to give us the information we’ll need on the longer race.
We had a nice day and 8 boats for FBYC’s ILCA Spring Regatta. We were sailing alongside 5 Flying Scots and 5 Melges 15s. The wind was a little shifty, mostly out of the south at 5-10 with slightly overcast skies. In 4 races I would win 1 of them, the only one that wasn’t really a race and was just single shot to the windward mark and a broad reach back. In the other races I would have a good upwind first leg, a slow downwind and end up following 3 boats around the course for a 4-4-1-4 scoreline – good enough for 3rd overall. A well-sailed event by Reed and Scott.
Arrived for day 2 of the Sunshine Open at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis to plenty of rain and even a little thunder. It looked like most of the weather coming was going to be light but likely to persist into the early afternoon. We launched on time and sailed in area C at the mouth of the Severn River.
After a short postponement we got racing in 8-12 knots of wind. For the first race I started at the boat just a tiny bit late and was able to rack out to the right into what looked like some better pressure. By the top mark I was in second just behind Bob T. Downwind I went low and easily passed Bob and extended. On the next upwind I held my position with James, Dave and others just behind me. I didn’t keep the boat going early in the final downwind and 4 boats went right around me leaving me in 5th.
By the second race the wind had picked up to 10-13 and my not so great start at the pin left me just in the top 10 at the top mark. As we went downwind the wind started to ease a bit. I went left seeing the wind going that way as it continued to ease while the rest of the fleet went mostly right. The wind got down to 4-6 and with the left over waves on top of the left to right current made going upwind a real slog. The left paid and I was in 3rd just on Luke’s stern with Dave just ahead of us. The downwind took forever but we finished in those places putting me in 3rd for the race and bringing me up to 5th overall. It had looked like they were going to shorten course for us and they eventually did for the radials sparing them from having to sail downwind again. With little wind we headed in. Congratulations to Dave who was able just ahead of James to win the weekend. It was fun sailing in the top of the fleet with Ted, link, Craig and others. Thanks to Scott, Kat, Gavin and everyone at SSA who made the weekend possible!
The forecast for day one at the Sunshine Open ILCA Regatta at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis wasn’t very good. After the skippers meeting, we postponed ashore for 25 minutes or so until we started to see a little bit of wind to sail in out in the harbor. It was cloudy and overcast with a very light air forecast. The cloudy conditions helped keep the power boats away enabling us to sail in the Severn River on a short course.
The wind was out of the west and current was coming right out of the Severn River down the course. At the first start I misjudged my timing to the line on account of the current and ended up being late and 3 rows deep. I crossed behind almost everyone and did my best to go fast and find pressure arriving at the top mark around mid fleet. I managed to catch a couple boats on the downwind and after 2 laps finished 10th.
In the second race, I had the timing for the start about perfect and had Dave just below me and only Craig between me and the boat. Craig tacked out early; I kept going for a few more lengths before tacking out into pressure. Craig and I went up the first 1/3 of the leg on the right while most of the fleet was to the left. I started picking puffs and shifts and by the top mark I was a good 150 yards ahead of the guys behind me. I played it a little too conservative on the rest of the course and wound up getting passed on the next two legs, finishing 6th, as the wind started to taper off and the current picked up.
Without a good prospect for more wind we were sent in. James won both races and sits in first with Dave just behind him. Then there are 4 boats within a point of each other and a few more points back to another couple boats and me in 9th.
Tomorrow’s forecast is looking for good wind, but likely rain all day.
With storms expect later in the day I headed out early at 9am for some practice time in the ILCA. Winds were 14-19 out of the south and I did a long upwind sail in the Piankatank. The wind was surprisingly steady until I got closer to the south shore. From there I did a long downwind toward the entrance to Jackson Creek and met up with the PHRF boats gathering for the start of the opening day race.
I hovered around for a bit and at 11 when their warning went off, I started off on their course to watch and see them off. I figured once they had passed by me I’d peel off for some more practice and head back up the river to Fishing Bay.
With a 5 minute head start I beat the first fleet to the short upwind mark. From there it was a 3nm to E which is 1P at the entrance of the Piankatank due east into the bay. On the long reach out there I was planing and just flying along. None of the boats were really getting any closer. After 40 minutes of sailing, only Nanuq – the 46′ boat that rates -18 PHRF had passed me and was only 2 minutes ahead at that mark. So much for a short sail into the bay. After turning downwind I eventually headed back into the Piankatank for the long sail home. I can only imagine what the crews on those boats were saying to each other on that leg as the tiny Laser ahead of them wasn’t really getting any bigger/closer.
I had been wanting a second stand up paddle board in addition to the Isle Cruiser we already have so that paddling didn’t have to be a solo pursuit. I had been looking at touring style boards and when this Bote Traveller showed up on Facebook Marketplace- I knew this was what I wanted and drove to New Jersey to get it in February.
Friday it finally made it down to the river and I went out for a maiden voyage on a beautiful evening in April.
Day 2 at the Capital City Regatta saw more wind than Saturday and pleasant racing conditions. Starting the day sailing in actual wind, it was clear I was pretty rusty from the nearly 5 months since the last time I sailed in wind – not counting yesterday’s near windless day. It didn’t take me long to flip the boat on the way to the course and I would flip 4 more times in the first two races before the wind eased a bit and I started to feel more comfortable in the boat again.
In the first two races I had good speed in the wind and small waves, I was just making a lot of mistakes (like flipping over) and getting out of phase because I was focused on the boat and not getting my head up to look around as much.
By the 3rd race of the day the wind had come down a bit, I was comfortable in the boat, cleaned up my maneuvers and started to make the boat go while getting my head out of the boat. That didn’t stop me from going the wrong way, missing shifts or getting out of phase, but mostly eliminated the silly mistakes I was making earlier. One challenge of staying in phase was what I would call the sucker puffs. Seeing a momentary lift and tacking on it, only to be in a header by the time the tack was completed. Mike and Tom were fast in this race and we traded places a few times, though I was able to stay ahead at the end to win that race.
By the 4th race the wind dropped again and got a little fluky and puffy. I made the right work and led the first leg and extended 1/4 leg ahead of the fleet, but on the 2nd upwind I tried to make the right work again and Lauren found a lot more wind in the middle left and went right around me and on to win the race.
In the 5th race I again played the middle right and got passed by the boats more left. Rounding the first mark around 7th I was able to climb a few spots to finish 4th. I didn’t know it at the time, but going into the last race I was one point behind Lauren overall. I knew it was close and I just knew I needed sail fast. The wind was light, barely necessitating sitting out. I kept my nose clean and found the pressure to get out ahead and stay there. Lauren would finish right behind me tying us for first which I would end up winning in the tiebreaker on account of winning 2 races.
It was a great regatta and a nice way to get an early start on the season. Thanks to Tyler, Nabeel, Jacob, Farley and everyone at PRSA who helped put on the regatta and helped me with logistics to be there!