Excitation

2018 Smith Point Race

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.

Beautiful #sunset on #jacksoncreek after sailing to #smithpoint and back.

A post shared by Jon Deutsch (@jondeutsch) on

RESULTS | PICTURES

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

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2017 FBYC Cut Channel Race

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

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2016 Screwpile Regatta

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

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2016 FBYC Cut Channel Race

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

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2015 Screwpile Regatta

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

 

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2013 Down The Bay Race: Video

Friday’s Down The Bay Race (read my account of it here) kept my hands pretty busy.  I was only able to catch a few minutes of video during the calmer/clearer times.  In these shots you are looking at the backs of the waves, so it looks much calmer with smaller waves than it was.

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2013 Down The Bay Race: Friday

2013 DTB Race Crew on Excitation

Friday morning we set out on Excitation – a Farr-Dickinson 37 for the Down The Bay Race from Annapolis to Hampton in what would be an epic race.  The forecast was for north west wind moving north and bringing the wind right down the bay making for a very fast trip south.  Sailing the race were 30 boats ranging in size from a 24-foot J-24 to a 52′ TP52.

The race started just after 10am in Annapolis with winds in the mid-20’s and light drizzle.  We got underway in the A2 fleet and headed down the bay on a broad reach under full main and #1 (our largest headsail).  Many of the boats with asymmetrical spinnakers were able to carry them and they all just took off.  Some of the symmetric boats were able to carry them as well.  For the early part of the race we just cruised along rarely under 8 knots and with 1-2 knots of favorable current we averaged over 9.5 knots over the ground for the first 3/4 of the race.

2013 Down The bay race after the start

Every hour we switched off drivers and main trimmers.  They were both working hard keeping the boat moving through the 4′ seas in the early part of the race.  We’d surf waves when we could and all competed to see who could drive for the top speed of the day.  At first we thought hitting 11 knots was fast.  Before long we were getting bored with only hitting 10 knots in a boat that rates 87 PHRF.

2013 Down The bay race after the start

About 1/3 of the way into the race the waves stabilized a bit and the wind was down into the low twenties and we tried to put a small kite up.  It was a bit squirrely and we just couldn’t keep the boat under the sail.  Eventually we lost it, almost broached and wrapped the chute around the head stay a few times.  After a few  tense minutes trying to unwrap it and get it down we got it on deck and continued under main and the number 1.

2013 Down the Bay Race loosing the spinnaker

By mid-afternoon we were approaching the mouth of the Potomac.  The Potomac is a very large river with a lot of current that comes out of it and into the bay.  Here we found the most confused seas and with waves now 4-6′ it was a handful to keep the boat going especially with random waves that would occasionally break into the cockpit.

South of the Potomac the waves got a little more regular and the wind stayed in the 25-32 knot range.  Occasionally we saw low 20’s and up to 36.  Through this part of the course we continued reaching along the rhumb line.

Last year at 5:30 am we were passing the Piankatank River (our normal FBYC sailing area just south of the Rappahannock River).  This year we were there by 5:30pm and making fantastic time down the bay.  As we got into the lower part of the bay the wind stayed steadier in the 28-32 range and the waves built to 6-8′ and even some 10′ for the final 20 miles down the bay before rounding a channel marker and taking a right turn to sail the last 9 miles into Hampton.  It was this downwind stretch that we did some of our fastest sailing.  Not because we were trying to push it, we weren’t – we were trying to sail conservative and safe, but because we had to sail the boat entirely by feel with almost no light to see the waves with.  It just felt right to go fast.

At one point we just dropped into a 6’+ wave and it felt awesome with a nice trough to our right and I just rode it for all I could.  It was just like sailing a dinghy down waves – except this was a 11,000lb 37′ boat.  We had hit some 12 knots earlier – but on that wave I hit 13.46 knots through the water.   What a rush to have such a big boat slicing across the water like that.

2013 Down the bay race reaching at the bottom of the bay

At the final mark to the finish we’d have to go from broad reaching to close reaching.  With full main and number 1 genoa up we knew that would be a challenge – and it was.  With no way to carry the genoa, let alone the main, we had a very difficult time getting the genoa down so we could finish under main alone.

The course record was around 13 hours set by a 60′ boat back in 1974.  We finished at 30 minutes after midnight which was in 14 hours – just one hour off the record.  Over 1/3 of the boats sailing finished under the old race record.  The new record holder – the TP52 Irie finished in just 7 hours.  They were at the bar just after 5:30 pm.  That’s an amazing record that’s going to stand for a very long time. Full Results.

We docked shortly after 1 and it was a relief to all be back safe and sound and on dry land.  We swapped stories with other sailors in the bar.  Only 2 boats wouldn’t finish the race – one after a demasting.  Eventually we all just crashed on the boat – exhausted from an epic ride we won’t soon forget.  (Update: Watch some video of our trip here)

I’d like to thank owner Mayo Tabb for doing the race this year and having me and to the other crew who did a great job keeping us going in some very difficult conditions.

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2013 Down The Bay Race: Thursday

Tomorrow starts the 2013 Down The Bay Race and I’ll be racing on the Farr-Dickinson 37′ Excitation owned by Mayo Tabb from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We’ll be sailing with 8 other boats in the A2 fleet among 32 boats sailing the race. They range from 24′ to 52′. Here’s the scratch sheet.

The typical wind for the Chesapeake Bay this time of the year is out of the south, sometimes the west and occasionally the east. When it blows out of the North it’s often not for long. This is a rare year that the wind will be blowing strong out of the North from the start of the race in Annapolis to the finish in Hampton. It’s almost certain that the course record of 13 hours by Running Tide, a 60 foot Sparkman and Stevens design owned by Al van Metre,
will fall this weekend. It’s possible half the A fleet might finish under the record. Either way it’s going to be a wild ride and we are going to have a blast!

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2011 Smith Point Race

Saturday I sailed in Fishing Bay Yacht Club’s Smith Point Race aboard the Farr 37 Excitation.  It was a 57 mile race out of the Piankatank River, east across the bay and then north near the mouth of the Potomac River and then back to the entrance to Jackson Creek.

It took about 13 hours to sail.  The first 2 1/2 hours were in little to no wind.  From the start most of the fleet continue on starboard towards the mouth of the Rappahannock before tacking towards our mark.  We spent our time in the light wind sailing on port along shore and out of the current.  We picked the layline pretty well from over 10 miles out and were first around the mark.  Being the furthest south and the first to catch the sea breeze certainly helped.

Aboard Excitation
Aboard Excitation

We led for a little while longer, but soon the faster J109, Afterthought, passed us heading downwind as we sailed North up the bay to Smith Point.  It was this leg where the sun set and the wind increased into the mid-teens.  After rounding  Smith Point around 11pm we slogged upwind for another 3 1/2 hours to the finish.

Afterthought
Afterthought passing us downwind as the sun set.

That was the longest offshore race I’ve ever sailed and doing most of the driving upwind was a good experience.  In the end we finished 2nd – only a minute and 43 seconds out of 1st place. We had a good crew, ate well, and we all enjoyed the trip.  Thanks Mayo Tabb for taking me along!

RESULTS

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