Saturday saw beautiful weather – mostly sunny with winds starting around 12 and building to about 15-16 knots out of the south west
We had 14 boats with 9 ILCA 7 (Standard) and 4 ILCA 6 (Radial). We all started on the same line which made things more fun with more boats to race with around the course. Some of the Radial sailors were really fast and were nearby and beating many of the standards around the course. It kept things interesting at mark roundings.
FBYC’s junior coach for the summer, Francisco Renna, put on a clinic in the standard fleet. He was fast all the way around the course and nobody came close to him in all 5 races. Rob Whittemore sailed consistently fast and consistently in the right spot to stay just ahead of me and Luke Hayes who tied for 3rd place with the tiebreaker going to Luke.
All day I had great starts and focused on winning the boat. I held my lane ok, but wasn’t as fast as I could have been upwind. I chalk some of that to my thinking it was summer sailing and I didn’t need hiking boots. The bruises on my feet later in the day would say otherwise.
David Hinkle and the RC did a great job keeping the course square getting us started cleanly.
We had a bit of everything for FBYC’s 4th of July Long Distance race in the Strange Bird Snipe. This was the first time sailing the boat since fall of 2019 while we rebuilt the mast step in 2020. We were sailing with 10 other boats including Flying Scots, Thistle, San Juan 21, Weta and it was our first time sailing against another snipe.
The first leg started out in the Piankantank near Godfrey Bay and we headed east towards Gwynn’s island near 8. With the wind from the south east – we were almost upwind and we were one of the more southerly boats hoping to catch the puffs sooner.
As we got to that mark and headed North to our next mark, the wind went more south making this the only downwind of the course. Some of the spinnaker boats started to get ahead. We rounded and sailed back south to the Piankatank on a relatively close-hauled course and then tacked to sail back to the finish in Godfrey Bay. All in all, because of the way the wind shifted, there was a lot of upwind – this worked in our favor not having a spinnaker and we were able to finish 4th. This also favored the San Juan 21 who finished just ahead of us and corrected over everyone to win it.
We were able to complete the race, but when we got back to the dock we realized the blew out the block at the base of the mast, the same part we broke back in 2018, and this will require some repairs before our next outing.
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.
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.
Fishing Bay Yacht Club held their first one design event of the year and we had 6 standard rig ILCA dinghies there to sail with us including a new member. The wind forecast wasn’t great. We postponed an hour and once we saw wind start to fill from the south east we headed across the Piankatank river to Area B.
For the first race we had about 8-9 knots of wind out of the ESE. I had a good start, tacked somewhat early and lead Holly and Alain to the right where I had been expecting the wind to go. Not only did the wind go left, but there was more pressure there and Chris and Mike had both gone pretty deep left. Coming together at the top mark Mike and Chris were 5-8 lengths ahead of me and I had to follow them downwind on what was more of a very broad reach. At the bottom mark I immediately went left to the layline and used some speed to pass Chris and catch up to Mike who tried to tack above me towards the top of the mark. He tacked a little close and I was able to keep my speed through his lee and eventually pinch him off tracking clear ahead to starboard near the mark. From there I extended a bit downwind to win the first race.
For the 2nd race the RC shifted the course to the left. As a sidebar the starting line was perfectly square to the course in every single race – the RC did a great job there. I had a perfect start at the boat and two boats down the line were over early. Meanwhile Alain got shut out on the wrong side of the committee boat and started late. I focused on sailing in pressure and favored the left side of the course and just worked on extending my lead. Mike and Chris duked it out behind me and Chris got ahead when Mike fouled him at the 2nd upwind mark rounding allowing Chris to finish 2nd.
In Race 3 Mike and I started at the starboard end of line with Mike just to to leeward. I was a few seconds late to pull the trigger and Mike hit the line full speed and quickly pulled a few lengths ahead. I tried to find a wind lane out to the right. The left still had more pressure and Mike had a comfortable lead at the top mark. Alain who had also gone left was just ahead of me and I followed him downwind. On the 2nd upwind I tacked early and used the pressure to the left to get ahead of Alain. I started to catch Mike on the downwind, but ran out of course to catch him and settled for a 2nd.
By the 4th race the wind dropped a couple knots – still steady enough to know where it was coming from. I had another good start winning the boat and just powered over the fleet and out to the left. Tacked just under the layline to be sure I didn’t over stand and then just sailed conservatively to stay ahead of the rest of the fleet. Alain a very solid race right behind me to finish 2nd.
Felt like a great day where I only made a couple mistakes and when I did, they didn’t hurt to bad. It was fun mixing it up with Mike, Chris, Alain, Britt and Holly and the RC ran a great set of races. Between races I even got some pictures of the Flying Scots.
Got out sailing for the fist time in 2021 on the ILCA Dinghy (what it’s being called now instead of a Laser). After setting up some new rigging, I sailed in some very light wind, sitting out just a few times and hiking exactly once in a puff. I did sail for about 2 hours and went just around Stove Point enough to see the start of the big boats in FBYC’s Opening Day Regatta.
I also got to try out some new technology – a Wristcam. For the last year I’ve been sailing with a cell-enabled Apple Watch and using Siri to tweet updates on the racing. The Wristcam is a bluetooth device that replaces the watchband and enables me to use the watch to take pictures. I can’t immediately tweet them out, but it at least enables me to take a camera with me without carrying any extra equipment.
Even though the wind wasn’t much, it was good to be in a boat. Looking forward to more racing at Hampton, FBYC and Norfolk this spring.
The forecast didn’t look good for today, but those who sailed yesterday knew the forecast also didn’t look good and it still came in around 1 for sail-able conditions. Sure enough that’s what happened and after waiting ashore about an hour we were able to get a course set on the north side of Fishing Bay right off the dock and able to sail short windward-lewards.
We had a 9-boat fleet that wasn’t too crowded at the line. I started near the pin and worked the middle left of the course in the first race. James and Mike were ahead at the weather mark and that’s pretty much where we stayed for 2 laps.
In the 2nd race I didn’t have as good of a start and sailed into some holes. As I went for a tack one of the traveler fairleads gave way. Thankfully it was a short sail in and Mike had some spare parts. I was fixed up and made the next start with 35 seconds the spare. The rest of the fleet had sailed off so I sailed the course by my self for a last place finish.
We sailed race 4 and while I thought I was sailing the favored side of the course – I clearly wasn’t sailing in as much pressure as much of the rest of the fleet. By the time we got to the weather mark I was behind Mike and James and would not catch up. For the final race I made sure I was in more pressure and it worked. I had a comfortable lead and was able to hold onto it to win the final race.
Being able to wear shorts and light clothing in November made it as nice of a day as we could have asked for our final race day of the year. Thanks to Jerry, Henry, Ruthanna, Bob and Lisa for being out there doing race committee.
Day 2 of the 39th Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship and we were set to have very nice weather for mid-October – 8-12 knots out of the east. I arrived early to the club as I always do to get breakfast ready for the sailors and get the day started. I also had some last-minute to-dos including putting the trophies together. In the process of cutting some line I cut my finger. I wasn’t too bad of a cut, but it was right across my pointer finger – right where I would be holding a line. I thought it best not to sail and risk it not healing or getting worse, so I bandaged it up, put a rubber glove over it and a sailing glove over that and went out on a RIB to take pictures and be an extra safety boat.
This was one of the first times I’ve photographed Lasers with my Nikon D300s and 18-200mm. That combination was great – it’s relatively light and easy to hold and being able to zoom all the way in and back out without changing lenses meant I could easily change perspectives.
In the end it was another terrific Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Regatta. Even with COVID precautions it all ran pretty smoothly and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to all of the sailors who made the trip. To James Jacob on winning this regatta for the record 6th time. And to all of the RC, volunteers and staff who continue to make this one of the most special events on the bay, in the laser class and at Fishing Bay Yacht Club.
The first day of the Cheseapeake Bay Laser Masters was a beautiful day – just a little on the cool side with with the wind out of the North. The best sailing area for the large fleet was across the river in Godfrey Bay and it was definitely blowing with winds in the upper teens.
For the first race I had a great start at the boat, held my lane upwind and quickly found myself in clear air ahead of the fleet. I worked my way to the right side of the course and worked a couple shifts to the top mark. As I got to the mark Scott Williamson was just ahead of me. Downwind I held my own and on the 2nd upwind I picked some shifts and found myself leading Scott and James Jacob who were just a little behind. Downwind we held our positions and on the final upwind I made a couple small mistakes allowing them to catch up and ultimately pass me by just a half boat length at the finish leaving me in 3rd. What a way to start the regatta – in 40+ boats to be in a position to lead it and in wind I’m not usually as competitive in was great.
In the 2nd race to my surprise – went much the same way. I was 2nd at the top mark behind James after playing more of the middle-left of the course. Downwind Scott got around me and we stayed that way to finish the 2nd race in the same order – James, Scott me.
By the 3rd race the wind hadn’t let up much – still steady 15+. I was starting to get a little tired and cold. I wouldn’t realize it until later that I had forgotten to take any of my food with me. In this race I was 15th at the first top mark. I still had good speed all the way around the course and was able to climb my way back to 9th.
For the 4th race I had a pretty terrible start having to tack out and duck some boats. I wasn’t used to doing this from the past 3 races – and I didn’t like it. I spent some time mid-fleet and still had good speed. I liked the left side of the course going downwind and this was one of the days of racing where I consistently was passing more boats downwind than were passing me. The waves were just a little off angle to the wind and especially at the bottom of the course were just big enough to get some good surfing on. I was able to climb up to 11.
By the middle of the afternoon the wind was supposed to start easing – yet it never did making for a long and hard day of sailing for the fleet. By the 5th race the fleet had dwindled to about 30 boats still racing. In this one I had another good start, played the shifts and hung in around the top 10 boats. I was able to pass some boats and finish 10.
What a great fleet we have! There’s a lot of parity in the fleet and any of the top 15 boats are chasing for the lead. But Scott and James are both making a run at the title after today’s racing.
Following racing we had some outdoor socially distant happy hour followed by dinner in the open porch with the tables all spread out. We weren’t able to seat everyone together, but we made it work and everyone was great about staying apart and wearing masks.
Ultimately it was an early night and I spent some time fixing some of the scores in the new scoring system and getting to bed.
16 years I’ve run the Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship and this one – like many before – will be like none-other. We’ve had hurricanes, Nor’easters, power outages, exceptionally high tides just to name some of the challenges we’ve faced at this regatta and all have made it an interesting and well remembered event. This year it’s COVID and we’ve had to make some modifications to the off the water activities to social distance. We’re all thankful our hobby is singlehanded sailing which enables us to continue to participate while remaining socially distanced.
It was a cool, rainy and blustery day at the club as we prepared for 45 Laser Masters. Nobody arrived early or was looking to go a practice. A number of sailors did pitch their tents and set up a fire pit for the weekend. This front should start to clear this evening, leaving us with winds in the low teens for much of Saturday. Sunday is less certain. Regardless of what we get, it’s fun to be sailing and seeing sailors again even if from a distance.