Long overdue is the video from our trip to Tampa last March to sail a Front Runner in the Fireball and Friends Midwinters at Davis Island Yacht Club.  My daily recaps can be found here.  More photos here.

The reason for the delay is that this was my first and last video done with a FlipHD camera.  The file format was un-editable and after countless hours of putting the entire video together only to realize it won’t render because it was MP4. So finally I have been able to learn a bit about video editing and was able to convert the original video to .dv and then re-edit it all back together.  This has literally taken me weeks of time to get to this point.

Fear not, I have a better solution for future videos with my new camera that I should be able to edit on just fine.

2010 Front Runner Midwinters Group Photo

Our group was a little slow getting going this morning. Many of us were up late at the Ybor St. Patrick’s Day parade and the time change didn’t help either. The conditions were finally what we had been wanting all week. 10-15 knots out of the west.

Since three boats sailed in 3 races yesterday and the rest of use had DNSs it wasn’t much of a boat race for the rest of us. Most of us just considered today to be the real race and wanted to finish as well as we could in whatever races we sailed today despite not being able to get on the podium.

We didn’t have much time to tune up before the first race and only got through each maneuver (tack, jibe, hoist, douse) once. The goal at the start was to be conservative and just stay with fleet as it went up the course. My conservative start worked out; in fact we ended up with the best start in the fleet hitting the line right at the gun with clear air and full speed.

I had been told that a Front Runner is ‘just a big Laser.’ Not having much familiarity with larger boats, I didn’t have anything else to go by, so I just sailed it like a big Laser. I focused on some of the basics in a laser like sailing the boat flat, neutralizing the helm and keeping the main sail trimmed as well as I could.

The west wind in the area just south of Davis Island is very similar to the wind on many of the rivers along the Chesapeake. The chop is small and the wind is puffy in phases. It turned out that our boat speed up the first beat was as good as any other boat and by picking the shifts right we found ourselves first around the windward mark with a 2 boat length lead over Mark H’s boat that won all 3 races yesterday.

Downwind I did a terrible job sailing the right angles with the a symmetrical spinnaker, but like a laser, I was able to keep it moving through the waves and even managed to pump the main on some puffs and surf some waves. We held the lead into the leeward mark as we made the turn for the second and final lap. On both legs we continued to match the boat speed of Mark H’s boat and managed a 6 boat length lead at the finish.

It was great feeling to win the first race I ever sailed in a new boat; particularly in such a deep fleet with so many boats. My crew Sue and I were pretty psyched. We took that enthusiasm into the second race and sailed very well to a 2nd place finish. At that point the wind started picking up and a little water had leaked into the boat changing the handling characteristics and it took me a race to relearn how the boat handles.

In the end our finishes were around 1, 2, 7, 5 putting us into 5th place overall. That definitely hits the goal of sailing competitively and sticking with the fleet. And the sailing conditions were great which added a nice ending to a week of difficult and un-sailable conditions.

Even though the sailing wasn’t as good as it could have been, the trip to Florida has been an incredibly fun time. I want to thank the Front Runner crowd – Matt B, Jen, Mark, Melissa, Kevin, Matt L and everyone else for bringing me along as well as Mike K for loaning me the boat. You’ve all been telling me for years how great of a trip this is and now I’m a believer. Thanks for the great time!

Mellisa, Jon, Sarah, Kevin at Front Runner Midwinters

We arrived at Davis Island Yacht Club on Saturday morning hoping to get in our first day of sailing. The wind was up around 15-18 knots when we arrived and white caps were beginning to appear. By the time we got the boats launched the wind was sustained 18-20.

This was my first time helming a Front Runner and we headed out to the course with the rest of the fleet. A few boats who had gone out ahead of us, passed us going the other way, and I just figured they were doing some upwind practice. Once we made it to the starting area we quickly realized we weren’t going to be able to compete in this wind, and having only been in the boat once before, it was probably going to be best for us not to remain out long. So we headed back for the dock.

Turns out we had good company. The boats I thought were practicing were already rafted up and within 2 minutes we were joined by another boat making 4 out of the 10 boats already at the dock. After we tied up, we went up to the deck at the yacht club where we had a great view of the race course. We watched the carnage as boats were towed back in. The crash boat at DIYC did a great job recovering boats and getting back to the club.

One boat in our group ended up nearly sinking and it ultimately took us 2 hours to drain. 3 boats ended up getting in 3 races. The rest of us hung around the club in the sun and put the boats away for the night.

Tomorrow the forecast is for a little less wind. If it’s the right strength then we’ll make a go of it, otherwise if it ends up being too much, we’ll probably leave a boat behind and triple up on a couple boats.

Rigging Front Runners

Today was supposed to be the first day of racing at the Front Runner Midwinters at Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa Florida, but the weather definitely put a damper on it. We arrived at the club early to get the boats set up and the race committee had already postponed our noon first start. We took refuge in the club house and waited for a break in the weather that came around noon. The weather gave us a window just long enough to get the boats set up before another front came through.

Throughout the day we either had wet and windy or cloudy with no wind. Late in the afternoon a couple of Fireballs did get out on the water. At times they were just sitting there in the drizzling rain. That hardly looked like fun sailing. Our group stayed inside and played cards for most of the afternoon. Late in the afternoon the RC postponed the first race until tomorrow. We’ll have to be up nice and early for a 9:30 first start on Saturday. The weather for the rest of the weekend is supposed to be beautiful.

The plan for today had been to get the boat ready, do a practice sail and then a Portsmouth handicap race in the evening, but rain, a tornado warning, flash flood warning and lake wind advisory foiled those plans. Instead I got the tires fixed and joined the group for lunch at Ybor Brewing Company. In the afternoon we relaxed around the house and then Rick and Jen cooked up a great steak, chicken and sausage dinner with salad and baked potatoes. The rest of the evening was spent playing cards and recounting old times sailing at FBYC.

We’ll have to get an early start to the day tomorrow to get the boat setup and ready to sail. We’ve seen a variety of forecasts, but presently we’re expecting lighter winds with a possibility of some rain.

Front Runner blown tire

We started out bright and early this morning on our trip to Tampa for the Fireball and Friends midwinter’s. I am sailing a Front Runner along with 7 other boats based in Richmond from Fishing Bay Yacht Club. 5 of us left Richmond at 5:30am in a caravan heading south.

The trip started out fine, but about 150 miles into the trip the tire went on the trailer I was driving. Unfortunately the spare was a dud too, but thankfully Mark came to the rescue and loaned me his spare. The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful and we pulled into Davis Island Yacht Club around 7pm.

Most of the other boats in our group arrived around the same time and after unloading the boats we stopped for some pizza before heading out to find our house for the weekend.

Tomorrow, after getting some new tires we’ll set up the boats and get ready to race in the afternoon. The weather is calling for scattered storms and 12-15+.