I was able to make 2 of the 3 days of Southern Bay Race Week at Hampton Yacht Club sailing aboard Excitation – a Farr-Dickerson 37 from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We went out to light winds on Saturday and sailed on the north side of the James just west of the Hampton River. There were so many crab pots in this area the RC had trouble finding places to anchor. We spent the entire day of racing dodging these.

On the starting line near Tradition.
On the starting line near Tradition.

The wind started light, we kept the boat powered up and going fast. We were the longest, heaviest and tallest boat in our fleet and in these light winds we could point higher and sail faster and this was quite an advantage at the start allowing us to start almost any where we wanted. We tended to take conservative starts and wound up being a few seconds late, but this kept us out of traffic and enabled us to pick a lane and easily sail through any boats around us.

With so many other fleets on the course not only did we have crab pots to look out for, but we also had traffic from other legs of the fleet – either the tail end of the fleet ahead or other fleets around the course. With the spinnaker in particular this made it hard to work on our speed since we were always adjusting our course. The first two races went well and

Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.
Downwind with the boats in the class after us rounding the short mark, while the fleet before us can be seen in the distance.

As the wind built in the 3rd and 4th race we switched to smaller sails. We struggled a little bit in the 3rd race of the day and redeemed ourselves in the final race and finished 1-1-3-1 for the day.

We enjoyed a great crew dinner Saturday night and I crashed on the boat the club.

Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.
Excitation sailing upwind on Sunday at Southern Bay Race Week.

On Sunday we had more wind for 2 more races and thankfully a clearer sailing area. The increased wind made it harder for us to de-power while being right in the sweet spot for a few other boats and we didn’t enjoy the speed advantage that we did the day prior. We were also without our bowman and with one fewer crew member meant I was going forward more often to help out. It was still a good day of sailing and we went easy with the spinnaker keeping our gybes down. We finished 2-5 on Sunday and ended up 2 points out of 2nd place.

All in all a great weekend and thanks to Mayo for having me along! Great sailing sailing with the crew and a fun weekend.

PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS

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.

Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.
Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.

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.

Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.
Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.

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.

Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.
Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.

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.

RESULTS | PICTURES

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.

Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts.
Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts

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.

Spinnaker trimming
Spinnaker trimming

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.

Sailing downwind on Excitation.
Sailing downwind on Excitation.

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.

RESULTS | PICTURES

All summer the best wind of the day has been early in the morning, so I was up early to take advantage of it Saturday morning in the Laser. After sailing for a couple hours I headed across the club to sail on Mayo’s Farr-Dickinson 37 Excitation.

Sailing went well and we had a good time against some good competition in the PHRF-A fleet. We wound up 4th in the 7 boat fleet with 4 races over 2 days.

RESULTS | PICTURES

Excitation

Saturday was the 3rd day in the Fishing bay Yacht Club Offshore Fall Series and I sailed aboard Mayo Tabb’s Farr-Dickenson 37 Excitation. It started out overcast with some occasional drizzle with winds 14-18 out of the SW. We were short handed with only 6 on board precluding use of the spinnaker most of the day. We made the most of it and focused on good upwind legs and made a lot less mistakes than those flying chutes and the short 1-mile legs allowed us to be competitive. All in all it was a fun day of 3 races.

RESULTS

With all the debris floating down the bay from the dam release a couple weeks ago, today’s Smith Point Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club was moved up to be a morning start so that it could be sailed almost entirely during daylight instead of finishing late at night as it usually does.  I sailed aboard Mayo Tabb’s Farr 37 Excitation and we started out with a nice 8-10 knot breeze. After the first two short legs to get out of the river we put up a reaching chute and followed the J109 and J105 and Nanuq flying an asymmetrical spinnaker up the bay to Smith Point against the current.

Corryvreckan had a great first 2/3 of the leg leading the J109 Afterthought until Afterthought changed to a reaching kite and pulled back ahead.  Excitation was the 4th PRHF-A boat to round and rounded in a little over 3 hours which is very fast for this race.  On the trip back south it started closehauled and after about an hour Excitation was the first to put up a chute again.  This time we put up a big reaching spinnaker.  Nanuq put up their asymmetrical and as the wind died we were able to work around them heading south.

When we got even with Reedville we saw some storms start to pass over Deltaville and the Pianankatank. We took the chute down and put up a heavy #1.  We caught the backside of the storms and saw some gusts up to 20 and spent some time getting light rain. We reefed the main and went upwind very well in the conditions and worked our way around both Nanuq and Corryvreckan.

Back up the Piankatank for the finish we were 12 minutes ahead of Nanuq and a few minutes ahead of Corryvreckan for a 2nd place overall finished. It was fun racing with Bonnie, Mayo, Chad, Carrie, Dennis and Chris. The only casualty on the day was my GoPro camera that got hung up in a line and ripped from the stern pulpit and sent to the bottom of the bay.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bmo8Jpmnwas/

RESULTS | PICTURES

Red dotted line shows our track starting about halfway up to Smith Point:

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

RESULTS | PICTURES

The Screwpile Regatta was another fun summer classic.  Thanks to Mayo Tabb for again bringing Excitation and having us along.  We sailed the boat well despite being pitted against a bunch of light sport boats that we could never make up our time on.

We sailed, we partied, we watched people play Pokémon Go around town.  AND I got to celebrate 1 year with my girlfriend Jess!  A great weekend all around!

PICTURES | RESULTS

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

RESULTS | PICTURES | ANN GRAY PICTURES

It was an interesting Screwpile Regatta – the weather was moderate, only 1 onshore postponement for lack of wind, good racing and a ton of fun.  On top of that we took half a boat of J/109 sailors and had them run a symmetrical kite with dip-pole jibes and check stays – not an easy set up to master.  The boat is a Farr/Dickerson 37 Excitation and with a pretty quick learning curve – we were up and sailing the symmetrical kite with the best of them halfway through the first day of racing.

We also quickly found our spot in the PHRF-A2 fleet – most of the boats were sport boats with asymmetrical kites and all but one of them owed us time.  As the longest, heaviest and tallest rig on the course – we were a fierce adversary especially on the starting line where we could sail higher and faster upwind and blanket anyone below us.  In the first day of 3 races – we got 3rd place every time.

Day 2 on Saturday featured a distance race.  The first leg was a downwind start and there was just enough wind to run with the kite up against the current and get around the first leeward mark.   Sailing upwind and south down the bay we stayed more to the left in the middle of the bay and found more wind.  The highlight of probably the whole regatta was crossing all but 2 of the A1 boats on that leg.  They would eventually pull away as the wind filled back in and they headed for a different windward mark.  Even though the wind was light, the race was shortened and we were less than a minute out of 2nd place.

On Sunday, we were postponed ashore for over an hour and a half before the wind showed up.  When it did we had nice mostly-sunny skies and 8-12 knots of wind.  Two more races were sailed and sure enough 2 more 3rd places.

Things learned this regatta – I really liked the new B&G electronics that Mayo has put on Excitation.  The 7″ screen on deck was able to show our past tracks as well as all kinds of boat information.  I think I also liked that the wind instruments were broken all weekend – one less thing to distract us.  Beyond the track and other GPS-based information – we mostly drove the boat on the compass and spedo alone.

Thanks again Mayo for racing and having myself, Mark, Melissa, Lauren, John, Chris, and Carrie along.  It was a pleasure racing with all of you.

Results | Pictures