FBYC closed the regular season with the Closing Day Distance Race. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with beautiful fall foliage – it felt more like September than almost November. Except there wasn’t much wind. Knowing it was a distance race with little prospect of more wind later and oysters to be eaten this afternoon the RC chose to start us on time and let us make the most of what wind there was.

I was sailing on Battle Rhythm, we were the 3rd fastest boat and thus the 3rd to last boat to start. We were just behind Tradition as we came to the line and ended up underneath a bunch of boats who had parked up just above the line. It took us a long time to sail around them and after 35 minutes to the weather mark – we set a spinnaker and headed due east out of the river to the next mark of the course.

We soon passed a few boats that had rounded the first mark ahead of us. With the spinnaker up, we were a little low and eventually had to drop it and go back to a jib as the wind went a little south. By the time we reached the far mark we were around 7-8th place. On the way back to Stove Point we passed two cruising boats leaving only Afterthought, Nanuq and Goin’ ahead of us. We didn’t catch them, but had a good time to get at 4th and learned some things about how to make the light reaching spinnaker work in light wind and close reaching.

Following the race were oysters and we had a great time catching up with a lot of folks for possibly the last time of the year.


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.


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.

Looking upwind as we sail to the finish

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.

The fleet behind us in the Piankatank

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.

Red dotted line showing the track we took.
Red dotted line showing the track we took.

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.


Fishing Bay Yacht Club‘s closing weekend started with a staggered start distance race for the offshore boats.  I sailed on Wavelength for what might be our last race as the boat is now up for sale.  The course took us up into Fishing Bay and then back out by the entrance to the Rappahannock River and then back to Stove Point near Jackson Creek.  It was mostly a reaching race and some boats were really able to get away from us and put some distance between us and them.  We finished mid-pack, had fun and made it a great way to end the season.

Racing was followed by a big oyster roast and pot luck and season awards.


10/26 Closing Day RegattaSteve Utley, Rob Whittet, John Hoar, Eric Brendle, John Watlington

Wavelength Need CrewSaturday was the final day of racing for the offshore boats at Fishing Bay Yacht Club followed by an oyster roast.  The race was a pursuit style race where the slower boats start first and the times are calculated so everyone should finish about the same time.  I was aboard Wavelength and for once it was great having boats of all sizes all around us for most of the race.  We ended up finishing 9th in the 17-boat fleet while sailing in winds that started around 8 knots and built to as much as 23 knots during the 1 1/2 hour race.  On top of that we were short-handed with only 6 on board and flew the spinnaker.

10/26 Closing Day Regatta

After racing we enjoyed oysters!  RESULTS | PHOTOS

10/26 Closing Day RegattaOyster Roast