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