It was a light air day of offshore buoy racing at Fishing Bay for the first day of the Fall Series. We had 6 boats in our fleet and wind out of the NNW at 2-4 knots for the first race.

Our port tack start at the boat in race 1.
Our port tack start at the boat in race 1.

At the start the wind was shifting all over the place and light. All of the boats were right in the box just behind the line and we were coming just below them all on port – just drifting through. Since everyone else was down the line and given the shift to the left, we started on port at the boat and worked our way upwind. I don’t recall ever winning the boat on port before.

The upwind .8 leg took us towards Stingray Point. We picked some shifts, but mostly looked for pressure and had to tack to clear away from other boats a time or two.

Fleet behind us once the wind filled in race 1.
Fleet behind us once the wind filled in race 1.

On the downwind leg it got even more light and shifty and we struggled to keep the chute full. Eventually pressure came down the course and were able to lay the finish as the 2nd boat over the line behind Sting and just ahead of Corryvreckan.

By the second race the wind went about 60 degrees to the left, now out of the west and we were sailing into the Piankatank. At the start, we were coming up on the boat end with Excitation close by and to leeward of us. Sting had an even better position and was able to shut us out requiring us to around at the boat and started about 40 seconds late behind everyone.

Upwind in race 2. Nanuq
Upwind in race 1

Upwind we focused on shifts and pressure and were able to get around a couple of the boats in our fleet. At the top mark, Afterthought, Excitation and Sting were ahead. We started downwind with some wind and worked to the left which was into the current that was taking us towards the finish. As we went down the course some boats jibed to the right and were becalmed. We held onto the left and eventually the current pushed us down to the finish behind Sting and Excitation.

With only 5 of us on the boat, it was a little challenging doing the maneuvers, but the light air helped and we got it down. It was great sailing with Todd, Spencer, Len and Joe. We wound up with a 2nd place finish overall.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

Sunday at the Stingray Point Regatta was even lighter than the day before. We thought we would be postponed out at the water to start the day, but there was around 4 knots and so we started.

Starting the 2nd lap of race 1.
Starting the 2nd lap of race 1.

With the course set towards the east, port tack took boats closer to Gwynn’s Island and any boat that went too far in that direction ended up becalmed over there. We were careful to pick the shifts and pressure often in the middle right of the course and later to the left when the current switched. We continued to work on our boat speed in light air and our crew maneuvers.

Ghosting downwind in race 2.
Ghosting downwind in race 2.

The second race ended up being shortened to 1 race. The wind went to just about nothing and luckily we had current pushing us down the course to the finish. There also was a good bit of power boat chop making it tough to keep the spinnaker full.

Despite the light outcome and not being a boat in a single race – it was still a fun event and we learned a lot more about the boat and how to make it go.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

The first day of buoy racing for the Stingray Point Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club brought light air and a combined A1/A2 start consisting of 11 boats (5 with us in A1). This was the first time buoy racing for Battle Rhythm and there was a bit to be learned about making the boat go upwind. We also got a lot better at spinnaker work having a full crew and plenty of opportunities to put the sail up.

Excitation in the A2 fleet coming downwind.
Excitation in the A2 fleet coming downwind.

We had a very tough fleet with 3 of the boats being light sport boats that we seldom ever even saw on the race course except shortly after the start. We never even came close to correcting over them. Had we been sailing with most of the boats we normally sail with in the A2 fleet, we’d be closer to finishing mid-fleet.

Madelaine, Carrie, Dan, Len & Todd
Madelaine, Carrie, Dan, Len & Todd

Current at the mouth of the Piankatank definitely played a factor given how light the winds were. At one point they were so light during the second race that it was shortened to just one lap. By the 3rd race the wind started picking up, we had a good start and we even got to sit on the rail for a time.

Jon trimming spinnaker as we approach some crossing traffic.
Jon trimming spinnaker as we approach some crossing traffic.

Post racing there was a great party and band at the club and it was great catching up with folks from other boats and others who just came for the party.

EVENT WEBSITE | SATURDAY RESULTS | PICTURES

Labor Day Weekend started with the Stingray Point Regatta Stingray Light Distance Race. This was effectively a warm up for the 2 days of buoy racing on Saturday and Sunday. Only 1 other boat in our A1 fleet had arrived and was there to race and we were started with the A2 and B fleet.

GOIN', Excitation and Stardancer going upwind just after the start.
GOIN’, Excitation and Stardancer going upwind just after the start.

At the start the wind was pretty light. We worked our way upwind and out into the bay. There was some current around the mouth of the Rappahannock as we were sailing to weather heading North. Once we rounded the entrance to the Rappahannock we headed south again and were able to put up a spinnaker in the light air and catch up to the boats just ahead of us. It was a very tight reach and only because it was so light were we able to run the spinnaker almost like a code 0. GOIN’ was the only other boat with a spinnaker up and they were just ahead of us. As we approached – we couldn’t go above them or we couldn’t carry the chute. We couldn’t go below them because we wouldn’t lay the mark. Eventually that didn’t matter when a barge went by and messed up the wind for both of us requiring us to pull the chute to the deck and go upwind for less than a minute to fetch the mark.

Reaching under spinnaker until the barge messed up our wind.
Reaching under spinnaker until the barge messed up our wind.

Though our competition finished well ahead of us, it was a good day for only having 5 of us aboard the boat. Nice light day and we didn’t make any big mistakes and actually got to do some upwind sailing. More racing tomorrow and we’re going to get A LOT more light air practice.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURE

Saturday was the Smith Point Race where we race from the mouth of the Piankatank about 25 miles north to the lighthouse at the southern side of where the Potomac flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The forecast wasn’t great and so the course was shortened taking us not quite as far north to the entrance of the Great Wicomico.

Nanuq and Excitation to weather just after the start.
Nanuq and Excitation to weather just after the start.

Out at the race course there was almost no wind at 11am so we were postponed a short while. Eventually enough filled and we were started in just a few knots as we made our way out of the Piankatank sailing upwind with the wind out of the ESE. As we went, most of other boats in PHRF-A, that all had overlapping sails, drifted ahead of us.

Light air ghosting along just north of Windmill Point.
Light air ghosting along just north of Windmill Point.

Once out of the Piankatank we headed north mostly under spinnaker and ghosted along past Windmill Point. Dennis drove the first part of this and I drove the later. Eventually, we were able to keep the chute flying better than the heavier boats and stayed inshore out of the current along the rhumb line and were able to get just ahead of the fleet at the turning mark as the wind started to pick up in the early evening.

Todd, Dennis and Rich sailing upwind with the fleet behind us after rounding the turning mark.
Todd, Dennis and Rich sailing upwind with the fleet behind us after rounding the turning mark.

Heading back home was close hauled on port tack. Holly drove most of this and did a good job sailing to some of upwind targets. We haven’t done a lot of upwind sailing on this boat, so we’re still working out the best angles and speeds and this leg gave us a good idea of what to expect. Still the larger boats that were just behind us and had more sail area were eventually able to run us down and waterline. We were happy in that it took them about 2 hours to do it just before sundown.

Holly and Dennis on the upwind just before dusk.
Holly and Dennis on the upwind just before dusk.

As we re-entered the Piankatank in the dark we were just a few minutes behind the other boats and weren’t able to correct over any of them leaving us in 5th place. It was still a fun day of racing and learned some new things about the boat. Namely how critical driving is to keeping a balanced sailplan.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

The Delta Dash was intended to be a bit of a middle distance race taking us out to the cut channel and down to Wolf Trap light covering roughly 40nm. The wind at 1pm when we were going to start was non-existent and so we postponed 40 minutes before the sea breeze filled they sent us on a much shorter 13nm course. We set out on the J99 Battle Rhythm with 3 other boats in our class – Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan.

J99 Battle Rhythm just after the start - Picture by Cathy Boe
Battle Rhythm just after the start – Picture by Cathy Boe

The first leg was upwind with the fleet crossing tacks towards Stingray Point light before tacking away from the shallow water. It took us a little bit to get settled and get the sail trim the way we wanted and we found we had really good boat speed relative to the boats around us even if we weren’t quite pointing with them. Ron and Chauncey were trimming jib while Holly and Dennis managed the front of the boat. Len was in the pit with me on main and Todd driving.

Sailing upwind on J99 Battle Rhythm in the mouth of the Piankatank.
In the mouth of the Piankatank tacking away from the shallows near the Stingray Point Light.

We headed further south thinking the current was going to take us away from the mark. Turns out we had the current wrong and was actually taking us towards the mark causing us to overstand and allowing the fleet to sail inside us and ahead at the mark. Excitation was over 8 minutes ahead of us as we headed upwind for 2nm on the 2nd leg.

Reaching to the finish with Corryvreckan just ahead and Excitation and Afterthought in the distance.

The last leg was a close reach back into the Piankatank – we set the spinnaker and slowly caught up to the boats ahead of us, but not nearly enough to catch them on corrected or on the course.

Len, Todd, Chauncey, Dennis and Holly

We learned some things – some new settings on the navigation system to help us identify laylines. We found better routing of the jib and spinnaker sheets through the blocks. We did a little more tinkering with the jib leads to improve the flow over the top of the sail. Thanks Todd for having us along and looking forward to the Smith Point race next month.

PICTURES | RESULTS

FBYC’s Cut Channel race is unique in that the sailors get to decide which route to take around a pre-defined course choosing either ot go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The course goes out of the Piankatank across the bay to the cut channel, up or down it depending on the direction and then finishing back in the mouth of the Piankatank. With a southerly wind we though we could hold the spinnaker on two of the 3 main legs and that would make up for the time on the remaining short leg going upwind.

Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.
Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.

We had a good start just to leeward of Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan. Excitation chose the same clockwise route that we did while Afterthought, Corryvreckan and Chilcoot took the counter clockwise route. Once clear of the line we all hoisted spinnakers. Unfortunate, we put 5′ tear in the foot of ours which would need to be repaired on a subsequent leg.

The trip across the bay was uneventful and we settled in under spinnaker. We saw winds into the upper teens at times and it came back to the mid-teens closer to the other side. As we approached the turning mark to go upwind we made sure to take the chute down on the opposite side so we could put it back up more easily on a later leg.

 April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.
April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.

While on the upwind Todd and Barb worked down below on repairing the spinnaker while everyone else was on the rail going upwind. We started with a reef in and were making good speed upwind. The wind eased and we eventually shook the reef. I steered for the last 2/3 of the 6.8nm upwind leg. While we were also going upwind we passed the boats going downwind who were doing the counterclockwise course. It was pretty clear by then and started to sink in that there was no way we were going to make up the time on the remaining leg. Excitation was near us and wound up crossing tacks with them and they later rounded ahead of us.

After we rounded the southern mark we headed back to the mouth of the Piankatank under spinnaker. We were going good until we saw something suspicious with the main halyard and wanted to check on it so we proceeded to take the spinnaker and the main down to do so. We were able to re-hoist both and continued on finishing some 20 minutes after the leaders.

All in all was a fun day and learned some things about this course and the boat we’ll bring back for next time.

PICTURES | RESULTS

A little bit of upwind sailing aboard J99 Battle Rhythm in the lee of Stingray Point.
A little bit of upwind sailing aboard J99 Battle Rhythm in the lee of Stingray Point.

We got out for another day of practice on the J99 Battle Rhythm. This time Jess came along and this time we also had gusts into the low 30’s. We had 8 aboard and we went out into the mouth of the Piankatank and tested out our reef setup. We weren’t super happy with the fittings for the 2nd reef, so we sailed for a little bit under main only and ultimately headed in so we didn’t break anything. It was still good to see how things setup so we can make adjustments for when we really needed it. We did get to pull the jib out for a few minutes when we got into the lee of the land. We also got to see some porpoises and skates. Jess had a good time and enjoyed getting out on a big boat for the first time in a couple years.

Jon & Jess aboard Battle Rhythm
Jon & Jess aboard Battle Rhythm

PICTURES

Sailing upwind on Battle Rhythm

Went out for some practice this afternoon on the J99 Battle Rhythm at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We started by working on some instrument calibration and then put the sails up and went upwind and out into the bay. The wind built as we went so we also practiced with a reef in and tried some different controls to de-power the boat when we needed it in the 12-14 knots of wind. Eventually it was time to come back and with just 4 of us on board we were able to effectively put up and fly the spinnaker as the wind built to as much as 15. It was a fun ride and looking forward to some racing later this summer.

PICTURES

J99 Battle Rhythm at Bert Jabin's Yard in Annapolis.
J99 Battle Rhythm at Bert Jabin’s Yard in Annapolis.

For the delivery of Battle Rhythm to Deltaville we had some unfavorable weather for our original plan yesterday which allowed me to jump on the race committee for the Down the Bay Race start. After another night in Annapolis we had an early start on Saturday. Battle Rhythm is a 32′ J99 sailboat #94 and was docked at Bert Jabins near Annapolis.

Battle Rhythm under spinnaker.
Battle Rhythm under spinnaker.

Once we were off the dock and into the Chesapeake Bay, we did a quick instrument calibration and then headed south around Tolly and Thomas Points. We started with good wind on the beam and with just 4 of us onboard we got the spinnaker up and were seeing 7.5 to 9 knots under spinnaker. Eventually the wind eased and we dropped the spinnaker and motor sailed again. When we were close to the mouth of the Patomac early in afternoon the wind again built and we raised the spinnaker again.

Eventually the wind dropped off to almost nothing and moved forward so as the sun was setting we struck all the sails and just motored the rest of the way to Deltaville. We arrived just after 9pm with a total trip time of 13 hours and just over 8.5 hours of motoring.

PICTURES