We had a super day for the FBYC One Design Long Distance Race. I was sailing an ILCA, one of 3 in the race, including one that sailed off a beach in Mathews to join us, against 10 other boats ranging from Melges 15s to Flying Scots to a Front Runner and a Rocket.
We started in Godfrey Bay and did a short leg upwind to #12 in the Piankatank in 8 knots out of the ENE. The first mark could be fetched from the start, but just barely so a boat end start was critical. I was a few seconds late following a Melges 15 who was a little early and bore off leaving a nice hole for me to start. Another ILCA was behind me and behind them was a Flying Scot.
Upwind I tried to hold my line and make the Flying Scot go around me. I ended up rounding 3rd as we headed east on an almost upwind angle to Piankatank #8. As we passed Stove Point the clear fetch enabled the wind to build to the low teens. My decision not to wear hiking pants didn’t seem so wise. The Front Runner passed me on this leg leaving me in 4th as we went nearly upwind again to FBYC-B just off Stove Point. Thus far everything has been almost upwind and I was in 5th as we turned to go back.
The course in reverse was still a lot of reaching making it hard for the symmetrical boats to fly their chutes and even the asymmetrical spinnaker boats weren’t able to fly their chutes all of the way back. It was great reaching conditions for the ILCA and I was able to reel in the Front Runner and the Flying Scot on the long leg back to 12. Eventually 1 Melges 15 got around me and I was the 4th boat over the line behind 3 Melges 15s and corrected to 3rd overall.
Thanks to Lew and his team for running our races and congrats to Walker on a well sailed race.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After threats of rain all week for this evening and even an afternoon shower a few hours before race time we ended up with beautiful weather and windy conditions for FBYC’s 2022 Moonlight Race. I was sailing with Mike S, Hunter, Clark and Mike T aboard his J105 Moo Hoos. The course would send us out into the bay, north the the mouth of the Rappahannock and then back into the Piankatank near Stove Point. There would be 2 starts with us as one of the 6 boats in the PHRF fleet and 3 in the cruising fleet.
We had arguably the best start of the fleet with a couple boats boxed out at the boat, we hit the line right on time a boat length down from the boat end. Unfortunately, Afterthought, a J109 able to point much higher then our shoal draft 105, was below us and forced us to tack away and in doing so we had to quickly duck Mad Hatter. That didn’t end up being too bad of a move as we got a nice lift and 1/2 mile later when we converged on the weather mark we were just ahead of Mad Hatter and just behind Afterthought.
From there it was another mostly upwind starboard tack as we headed out of the Piankatank and into the bay. Afterthought was overpowered and went for a headsail change while we were able to slip by them. When we got to the next mark we could see the current was ripping up the bay so we elected to tack and go south to stay out of the current before heading east to the next mark. While that was generally a good move, we took it too far and vastly over stood allowing several boats to ‘cut the corner’ so to speak and round ahead of us. All of this upwind sailing was in winds in the upper teens. We had a class jib up and a full main and worked to feather the main and steer between the waves while keeping the boat flat. Sitting on the rail we got drenched a couple times when we hit some of the larger waves.
By the time we hit the far mark the sunlight that remained was gone and it would be a reach for several miles up into the mouth of the Rappahannock. We could see ahead that none of the boats were flying a spinnaker – we thought pretty hard about it but the wind was just a little too far forward to flying it in the dark. We still made quite a bit of ground up and could see both Red Sky and Mad Hatter on the next upwind leg and were just about crossing tacks with them. By the time we passed Stingray Point Light and rounded the last mark back into the Piankatank we were just ahead of Red Sky and just behind Mad Hatter. We were able roll Mad Hatter and by the finish we were able to get our time on Afterthought, but not on most of the rest of the fleet.
It was a fun race followed by ice cream and rum. Thanks Mike for having me along and to Tom R, Blackwell, Randy and Brad for being our race committee.
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.
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.
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.
Sunday was the distance race day for Fishing Bay Yacht Clubs Offshore Spring Invitational. We started in the mouth of the Piankatank just east of Stove Point with light winds 6-8 knots. We would have a downwind start with all of the fleets starting at the same time. We were a little late to the start, but this was a conservative approach to allow us to pick our spot and stay clear of the other boats.
Once we had our spinnaker up and were clear of other boats we made our way east into the bay. We thought we were going to a mark further out into the bay, but as we passed another mark along the way boats ahead started rounding it. We quickly realized our error in what we thought the course was and adjusted our course to follow the other boats without really loosing any distance. I mostly trimmed spinnaker and eventually started training Ryan to stand in for me. Late in the leg I drove while Mayo worked on navigating. We had to sail a really tight angle with the spinnaker up while the asymmetrical boats were barreling down on us from behind with pressure. We just didn’t want to have to drop to a head sail only to need the spinnaker right back up for the next leg.
As we reached the 2nd mark, we had a well executed gybe around it and headed north dead downwind to get to the 3rd mark. Many other boats mostly with asymmetrical spinnakers tried to play the angles and we just we went more downwind on the rhumb line for just under 2 miles. We ended up sailing inside of Nanuq and had a nice lead coming into the mark. When we got there we didn’t want to do an extra gybe so we executed a windward takedown which nobody on this boat had ever done before aside from me and Chris who had done it on other boats. We did it early in case it went badly and it went so well we were under powered sailing wing on wing for the final minute into the mark.
By the time we rounded the northern most mark the wind had gone down to 7-8 knots and we elected to go to the light #1. As we sailed upwind back to the finish we would find ourselves significantly overpowered with this sail up. About 2/3 of the way to the finish the soft shackle holding the jib sheet to the sail let go, so we came to a stop and quickly fixed that and got going again. Now with the wind in the upper teens and hitting 20 we really wanted to get a smaller sail up so we tried to do a sail change on a tack, but had problems using the second headsail track and ended up having to do a bare-headed sail change. These two maneuvers allowed Nanuq to sail right by us and we ended up finishing 2nd a little over 2 minutes behind them on corrected time.
All in all it was a great weekend of sailing. We sailed well, we got better at the roles we had, we tried some new moves and didn’t break anything that costs $$. This was a great tune up for Southern Bay Race Week coming up in two weeks.
Saturday was the first day of a two day Spring Invitational for Offshore boats at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. The format was to do buoy racing on Saturday and have a government mark distance race on Sunday. The weather was light but otherwise perfect for an early season day of racing aboard Excitation – Mayo’s Farr/Dickerson 37.
1st race good start at the boat. Nanuq was over early and had to go back. We did a hitch to the right to put some space between the other boats and continued up the middle of the course. We were first around the mark, had a good set and stayed ahead of the fleet downwind. We had another good upwind and held off Nanuq and Corryvreckan (who both owed us time) to win the race on the course and on corrected time. I was the floater on board helping with navigation/tactics and trimming the spinnaker.
In the second race the wind built a little bit, but still within the range of the light #1 we were using. We were a little late at the start and as a result had to do a few more tacks after the start to either clear our air or avoid starboard tackers. At the top mark we rounded 4th behind Nanuq, Corryvreckan and Sting. Despite a problem with the lazy spinnaker sheet, we still had a pretty good set. Downwind we made up some ground on Nanuq and sailed deep and passed Corryvreckan and Sting. Upwind we favored the right side of the course out of the current and switched down to the ‘heavy’ #1 as the wind continued to build – now in the 8-10 knot range. We held our position and worked on narrowing the gap with Nanuq – but at the finish we wouldn’t be able to make up our time and finished 2nd.
By the 3rd race the wind picked up and we were seeing winds in the mid-teens. We made the decision to switch to the #3 and just as we went to raise it as the starting sequence was initiated – the sail partial came out of the track while it was being hoisted. It came out in such a way that we were either going to damage it, or we would have to disassemble part of the track to get it back. Given those choices and the fact that we were in the starting sequence – there was no way we were going to disassemble it without damaging it and make the start and so we decided to retire. Disappointing not to sail the 3rd race as we were in contention to win the day with a good result. We’ll be back for the distance race tomorrow.
For FBYC’s One Design Spring Series #2 I was invited to sail on John Hubbard’s Melges 15. This was only the second time the fleet has raced at FBYC and is a new fleet at the club this year. By summer there should be at least a dozen boats at the club once deliveries are made.
We had a 4-boat fleet along with Mandalorian (Rob & Reed), Osprey (Paul & Josh) and Big Z (Mark, Georgia and Noah) and light winds out of the east. The course was set in Fishing Bay with the weather mark due west of the end of Stove Point point and the course to the west of that. John and I did some practice before the start. Working through tacks and putting the spinnaker up for some gibes. I was really impressed with the space on this boat and the simplicity of the systems and ease of which they are used. Having been on so many other boats of this size – it really stood out how simple this boat was. It was also very stable – one person walking onto the boat didn’t make it unstable, but two people hiking certainty mattered for weight placement. As a crew, even in light air, when I’d be sitting opposite the helm or siting in the middle of the boat, it still left me places to crouch or sit without being on top of something uncomfortable. The rigid boom vang mounted above the boom that pushes down also clears up a ton of space for the crew to sit forward without constantly ducking a vang line.
In the first race, we were a few seconds late to the line and didn’t exactly pick a great line upwind. We rounded the first mark behind Osprey and Mandalorian. Downwind we sailed low and fast and closed the gap a bit. When we got to the leeward mark we were just close enough to have an inside overlap on both boats and rounded ahead to go upwind. On this leg we went right thinking we’d have more pressure and Mandalorian went left and got a better lift rounding well ahead of us. We again had great speed downwind and caught up to Mandalorian but ran out of runway finishing 1/2 a boat length behind them.
In the second race we were again a little late at the pin end of the line and tried to get right, but boats were there and we had to do a few tacks to clear ourselves. Mandalorian sailed a great race and was clear ahead followed by Osbrey. Downwind we were able to catch and pass Osprey, but couldn’t catch Mandalorian who rounded the leeward mark and started going going upwind. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for Mandalorian – it was only a 1 lap race and we were the first boat over the finish. Mandalorian corrected himself and finished behind Osprey.
In the 3rd race we had a great start at the boat. We worked our way up the middle of the course picking our way through the Flying Scot fleet coming downwind. We even started to improve our boat handling and roll tacking the boat. We were just behind Osprey and Big Z at the top mark. We were able to sail lower and put a gybe in taking us back toward the middle of the river and gybed back coming in on starboard and inside at the leeward making Big Z gybe away and round behind us. Upwind we played a loose cover and were able stay ahead to finish first.
In the 4th race we had another good start at the boat with the other two remaining boats (Osprey and Big Z) starting at the pin. We again played the shifts in the middle and were able to round the first mark in 1st with Osprey just behind us. Upwind we stayed close and we reached the mark first, but had some trouble with the set and Osprey sailed high and right around us. We tried to gybe for better air but Osprey ended up with more pressure and stayed well ahead leaving us with a 2nd.
It was really fun to get to try sailing a Melges 15. Huge thanks to John for having me aboard and thanks to Mike, Rick, Clark and Frank for RC today.