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.


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.


I sailed the FBYC Cut Channel Race aboard Excitation this year and the race had a bit of a twist to it: boats could sail clockwise or counter-clockwise around the same 31nm course. We were among the boats that had read the SI’s earlier in the week and not gotten the memo that it changed the night before until we figured that out about 5 mi into the race and by then it was too late to be competitive.  It was still a beautiful day to sail across the bay and thanks Mayo for having me along.

Cut Channel Race Start


cut channel July2

We had a really nice day on Excitation for the Cut Channel Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club.  We started out with wind, but it died out in the middle of the bay as we sailed up the channel.  By then Afterthought was able to slip away in the wind they had and what filled in behind us was too little, too late.

cut channel July2


Saturday’s Cut Channel Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club started out with extremely light wind and a postponement on the water.  When the wind started coming in – it never stopped and slowly built to 25+ by the end of the race.  It was no trouble for us on the J109 Double Eagle – we were well on our way to the finish by the time the wind really piped up.

With the wind out of the south east, the first leg was a beat to the south in order to get good leverage on the trip across the bay and across the current to the cut channel 3/4 of the way to the other side of the bay.  Unfortunately, we over stood just a little bit and our competition – J/109 Afterthought was a able to sneak just ahead of us for the trip up the channel.

On the final leg back to the Piankatank we made ourselves comfortable on the rail for the hour+ close beat complete with sunscreen and beer while watching porpoises alongside the boat.  We managed to claw back the lead Afterthought had put on us but couldn’t overcome it enough and were beat by a few seconds at the finish.


Saturday was the Cut Channel Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club and I was aboard Double Eagle with Sam Mitchener and 7 others for the race.  We couldn’t have asked for much better weather with 10-20 knots out of the East with sunny skies for the 29nm course.  We were among 2 other boats in the PHRF-A fleet and 18 total boats in the race.

We had a good start down by the pin right alongside the other J-109 Afterthought.  The first half of the race was a beat and for the first 2 miles Afterthought inched ahead of us to where they were 5 lengths ahead of us as we turned around C and headed for mark L.  As the wind built we had a better sail selection and a little more weight and were within a couple boat lengths by the time we got to L.

Afterthought crossing us on the way to Q:

From mark L we kept going south while Afterthought tacked and went North as we both made our way east across the bay to mark Q.  The current made all the difference pushing us closer to the mark and we were .8 mi ahead at Q.  As the wind eased and the conditions began to favor Afterthought for the 2nd half of the race they chewed some of that back and we crossed the finish line with a 3:15 minute lead and won our class and had the fastest corrected time of the whole fleet.

I ended up driving upwind and the reach for about 40 minutes which was good to give Sam a break and to see how the sails were affecting the trim.  Mayo, Bonnie, Ed, Matt L, Chris T, Holly F sailed well together and were fun to sail with.  All in all it was a good race and a good result – putting Double Eagle into contention later this year for the long distance series.

Pictures | Results

Our Course (blue) and our track (red dotted):

Saturday’s Cut Channel Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club had a bit of everything from the weather.  Light air, heavy air, storms, chop, smooth seas, etc.  Lud Kimbrough, Mike Karn and I sailed the J/70 Nostalgia in the PHRF-B fleet of 6 boats out of 15 total for the race.

The race took us south and east and then due east across the bay before heading north up the shipping channel and back to the Piankatank.  We had a great start and did well on the first upwind and reaching legs.  On the 2nd downwind leg out to the channel we made a bad bet on the weather and fell back into the fleet.

After rounding the channel marker to head North we could see storms in the distance but with being so far out into the bay we didn’t have reliable cell service to check the weather.  We donned our life jackets and battened down the hatch – we really did this – and prepared for some weather.  We were also monitoring VHF 16 instead of the race channel so we could hear ships coming up the channel, etc so we didn’t hear any race announcements that the race was being shortened at the next mark.

Most of the storms stayed away and we could see lightning in the distance.  One frontal system did come through and as the wind hit the boats behind us, we quickly executed our emergency chute down procedure to get it in the boat just before we were hit with a 25-30+ knot gust.  We rode out the rest of the leg under jib and main still making 6 knots and as we approached the mark we saw Mr. Roberts there and saw the race was being shortened.

We didn’t save our time, but we had fun and got to try something different on a boat none of us had ever done a distance race with.  Unfortunately for us, we finished at the farthest point of the course from home, which meant we still needed to sail upwind back home.  We definitely didn’t have enough fuel aboard to motor the whole way, plus the boat goes faster under sail anyway.  2 1/2 hours later and after narrowly dodging another squall line and motoring from about 6 miles offshore once the wind died, we made it back to FBYC.


I had an awesome weekend in Deltaville.  It started with the Inaugural Deltaville 5k.  With zero training I ran the whole thing and had a respectable finish of 26:07.

Jon at the Deltaville 5k

I took the weekend off from sailing to heal a minor wrist sprain and so  I went right from the 5k to doing race committee at Fishing Bay Yacht Club for the offshore Cut Channel Race.  I got a lot of great pictures of the offshore fleet here.

downwind during the Cut Channel Race

Saturday night was 4th of July partying, fireworks and swimming.  For Sunday’s racing we thought it was going to be a bit windy so I jumped on a Front Runner as a 3rd crew member, but halfway through the race the wind died and I sat out the next two light wind races and instead went sailing on a Byte in the afternoon.  Saturday night we again watched Fireworks.

Fireworks as seen from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. On the left is a firework from Stove Point while in the background are fireworks from Matthews County.

Monday was FBYC’s One Design Long Distance Race.  I normally would have sailed my Laser in this, but again I was sitting out to rest my sprained wrist.  I went out for the start and the first two legs to get some photos.  The entire collection is posted here.

Front Runners and a Mobjack sailing downwind in the One Design Long Distance Race