This year Jess and I sailed lasers in the FBYC One Design Division Long Distance Race. All of the smaller boats <24′ waterline sail using the Portsmouth handicap system in a race that covers a total of 7-8 miles in the Piankatank River.
We had a variety of boats in the fleet from Lasers, Radials, Flying Scots, a Weta and a few J70’s. The 70s would be fast and the off-angle sailing under asymmetrical spinnakers would really give them a chance to pull away.
The start set the boats off on port tack eastward down the river. The rest of the fleet all came barging in on port tack at the pin and I did a starboard dip line start and forced all of them to give me room and Nostalgia had to circle around and restart. The J70 Billy Buff started just behind me and I was able to pinch them off and slow them down before they eventually went under and around me.
The wind held at a steady 9-11 knots out of the north east. The course took us towards Gywnn’s island, around #8 and then towards the entrance to Jackson creek. It then doubled back and then went ~3 miles west up the river and then back to Godfrey Bay.
I kept up best I could with the Flying Scots and stayed ahead of the Weta while the J/70’s sailed pretty far into the distance.
Following racing as we were packing up the boat the scorer walked by and let me know that after the handicaps were computed, I tied for 3rd with Billy Buff and we both beat Nostalgia by 2 seconds. Just goes to show that starting on starboard made a difference between 3rd and 5th.
Since the last time I’ve raced a Laser the world has changed a lot. With the virus and social distancing and the cancellations and postponements – my first time Laser Sailing this year would be in June at the postponed Laser Spring Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. We had a fantastic turnout with 11 Lasers and another 10 radials like on account of few other regattas going on this month and Junior week that was postponed, but junior race teams that have started practices.
The forecast all week was for cloudy, windy and chance of rain. It ended up being absolutely beautiful with sunny skies, light winds to starts and moderate temperatures.
Out on the racecourse we were originally going to start the Laseres with the Radials – we did a practice start with all of us together and there was a lot of over-earlies and just a lot of confusion. After the practice start and a general recall the fleets were finally split and we sent the Radials first followed by the Standards. The wind was about 8-9 for that first race.
With a little boat favor I made sure to win the boat and stay in clear air. By the top mark I found myself in 2nd just behind Avery who sailed just a little to the left of me. I followed him downwind, but on the final upwind to the finish I got a little out of phase and dropped 3 boats to finish 5th. Having not sailed in almost 7 months it was great to hang with the fleet and have upwind speed. I’m also down about 10 pounds and the lighter air helped there too.
In the second race I again won the boat and led at the windward mark and downwind. On the final beat I missed a big shift almost auto-tacked. By the time i recovered Avery sailed by and I was able to stay ahead of Luke for 2nd.
In the 3rd race the wind went a little more left and picked up a bit. I had an ok start and didn’t quite win the boat. Rounded the top mark in 4th and wound up finishing there. Alex had a great race and got away from me and just about caught Avery.
For the 4th and final race I decided to start closer to the pin. The wind had come a little left and the boat was looking at little crowded. I sailed in clear air and was 3rd at the top mark. Downwind James got around me and I would wind up 4th.
It’s been a while since I carried my cell phone with me in a waterproof case to tweet from the race course – today was the first time I was able to tweet between races using a cell-enabled watch. The dictation wasn’t super great, but it worked.
Huge thanks to Lew and the crew of Catitude for heading up race committee today.
Sailors are used to minding tides to plan their sailing – this ended up being another year the sailors needed to mind the tides with their cars. A harvest moon and a Nor’easter off the coast made the road to the club impassable at times throughout the weekend and we had to adjust the regatta schedule around when the road would be passable.
After all the high water in the morning we were postponed ashore close to 2 hours waiting for the wind to race. By the afternoon the wind had filled and the first race was started. I started on the left and banged the left corner seeing that there would be more wind there. I stayed clear of everyone and lead at the first mark. Gavin caught me downwind and I held on to finish 2nd.
For the 2nd race the wind went to the right and I started in the middle of the line and tacked to the right as soon as I was clear ahead. I was 5th at the top mark and stayed there after not being able to catch anyone in the lead pack.
In the 3rd race I started near the pin again and was able to punch out with just Natalie to my left. We continued to the lay line and she tacked onto my hip and stayed there until just before I should have ducked James Jacob who was coming across on starboard and instead of ducking him I was free to lee bow him into the mark in first place. As I rounded the mark I dropped the main sheet causing the boom to hit the mark and my weight to windward pulled the boat over on top of me. Between righting the boat and doing my turns I was deep and was only able to salvage a 16th.
I was super happy with my upwind speed today. I had good starts with room around me allowing me to punch out and go where I wanted with speed. Downwind I held my own but wasn’t fast relative to those around me. It was a solid day of racing sitting in 11th overall.
After sailing we had a fantastic meal and I was honored with a toast to years of service as the District 11 secretary and handed the baton to Scott Williamson who will be taking over. We enjoyed having so many people there to enjoy dinner with and reminise on regattas past and look forward to future sailing.
On Sunday we moved the first warning up to 9:30 since everyone had to arrive super early to get in before the tides went way up. I had never rigged my boat in the dark for a regatta. We also knew the wind was forecast to be better in the morning and die out as the day went on, so we were out early to make the most of it.
I started the first race I started right at the pin and went left into the NNE breeze heading across the river for Berryville Shores. I didn’t go quite as far as Dorian did to get into the lifted breeze closer to shore and I settled for a top 10 rounding. Typical for me I’d loose boats downwind and gain upwind ultimately settling for 9th.
The 2nd race was another long 5h. The wind dropped from 16 in the first race of the day to 14 and the wind went more right now coming right off Stove Point. I had a great start middle right and quickly punched out in front of the boats around me to the right. Boats to the left would get better shifts and more pressure and I would end up mid-teens at the first mark. I would go on to loose a couple boats downwind, but eventually claw my way back to 12th at the finish.
Around noon we were starting what would end up being hte last race of the regatta. The wind went back left and dipped to 9-10 at the start. I started right at the boat and there were numerous boats over early at the pin. I tacked out early to the right to find more pressure and at times looked punched. Had I sailed a little further to the left I would have gotten into the new wind and watch Eric J roll past me further to the left. I was in the teens at the mark and stuck way left downwind with Jeff M. The wind eased to 6-7 as we went downwind. I split from Jeff while he stayed left and got in better wind and as I went right I continued back into the pack still in the mid-teens. I had a good last upwind and picked up a boat or two finishing 11th.
By the time the 3rd race was done it was clear the wind was dying and so we called it a day. After the drop and after 3 boats ahead of me in the last race were OCS I finished 2-5-16-9-12-8 – good enough to tie me for 10th, but I lost the tie breaker on account of being in the younger age group.
It was a very successful regatta. I was so glad so many sailors came to join us. The race committee did a fantastic job making the best racing they could and keeping us sailing in the best wind each day. Alain not only got us fed, but well fed – another marvelous meal. And thanks to Jess for all of her support throughout the regatta and on the safety boat.
The FBYC Fall Regatta started out with a late start due to some confusion over the race time. In the morning the wind was blowing great – into the low 20’s as folks were arriving and those that would have sailed standard rigs all elected to switch down to the radials and join the juniors so we could sail in a single fleet with the same rig. All of the Flying Scots bailed on the day. By the time we had a race committee the wind had cracked off into the low teens – perfect standard-rig weather had we all not already decided to go Radial.
We finally got out to the race course for a 1pm start. Unfortunately for Henry, he broke his gooseneck in the prestart dropping us down to 7 boats. I had a great start and sailed up the middle left of the course while Finn and Reed worked the right in better shifts and pressure. I was right behind Finn at the top mark with Reed behind me. By the 2nd upwind the wind had dropped to 10-11 and I really had to focus on staying in pressure. I managed to beat Finn to the top mark, but downwind he caught a puff and blew right by me. At the finish Finn mistook the lap we were on and went for a rounding while I went across the finish line.
At the start of the 2nd race another boat flipped
over and startled me when the top of the mast hit my deck just beside me. I pushed off the mast to keep us from
tangling and was able to go on and start relatively on time. In this 1-lap race
I stayed right behind Finn the whole time finishing 2nd.
In the 3rd race I won the boat but was a bit slow
upwind with the traveler looser than I would have liked. I tried to play the
shifts to the left, but was mostly on the wrong side of the course letting Reed
get around me and had to settle for a 3rd.
In the 4th race the left finally paid, except
Britt went even more left and led us at the top mark. Chad was right behind us
and gave Finn some trouble and I was able to get around Britt to win the race
with Finn behind me and Chad behind him.
At the start of the 5th race Margaret had a
fantastic start and was mixing it up with the leaders to begin the leg. After
many days of practice, today was her first time racing. I tried to bang the left again, but it didn’t
work and I trailed Finn and Britt at the top mark. This being an H course I was able to tack
early on the upwind to lay the finish and just managed to beat out Britt for a
2nd. Finn would go on to win
the day by 2 points.
We had a ton of fun racing today. The wind held in most of the day. Finn, Reed, Chad, Britt and the rest of the fleet were all fun competitors to sail with and the race committee did a good job keeping our course square and getting us started.
Day 2 of the Crab Claw Regatta and Laser District 11 Championship at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis and we were greeted light winds and a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind. It came soon enough and along with the clearer skies we ended up with 12-14 knots of wind out of the North. We were out in the north sailing area looking upwind at the bridge.
In 3 races I had pretty good starts usually winning the boat or close to it and crossed most of the fleet on the first upwind. I didn’t quite have the upwind speed as some of the fast guys, but held my own when I remembered to round the offset and didn’t hit any marks. By the 3rd race I started to get the boat dialed in a little better and had better speed and didn’t make any mistakes leading to my weekend best of a 4th. Ended up 15th overall and it was great to sail with some competition to tune up before the FBYC Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters in October. Luke, Eric, Mike, Scott and Dave all sailed great this weekend and were fast all the way around the course. Thanks to Scott, Dorian and the fleet for hosting!
One other bit of news coming out of the weekend – Scott Williamson is going to take over as the District 11 Secretary. It’s a post I’ve held since the end of 2006. The Laser fleets in the mid-Atlantic remain a great group of sailors and it’s been fun to see the ups and downs of the fleets and to help play a part in connecting sailor and getting them out sailing. Thanks for taking this on Scott and I look forward to continuing to see the sailors I’ve met throughout the district for many years to come.
Severn Sailing Association hosted the Crab Claw Regatta and 2019 Laser District 11 Championship Regatta. It just so happened that East Carolina’s football team was playing at Navy this afternoon so I figured out how to do both.
The skies were overcast with temperatures in the high 70’s and the wind out of the North at 11-13. I sailed the first two races in some lumpy seas making it critical to keep the boat flat to go fast upwind. There were some shifts to hit as well. Downwind it took a while to figure out how to catch the waves – by the 4th time I went downwind finally started to figure it out just before I headed in.
FBYC’s Laser Summer Regatta 2 had a great crowd out in some fantastic wind for one of the last race days of the Summer. With winds into the mid-teens and some anchor problems with Mr Roberts delaying our start for an hour we had some attrition in the fleet bringing us down to 10 boats that ended up racing all 4 races.
In all 4 races today, I had great starts usually just a couple boat-lengths down from the boat. I focused on accelerating off the line and keeping a hole for myself and holding my lane before worrying about settings.
With the course in the middle of the Pianakatank just North of the channel and inside Stove point and the wind out of the NNE it was a bit shifty and it was relatively flat given the wind speed. Generally, the left side had better shifts most legs upwind. Often I would head out there sometimes overstanding, but always with James just ahead or behind. Alain, Mike and Greg also had some good upwind legs as well and were usually within striking distance even though it became a 2-boat race between me and James.
The one race left didn’t work was the 3rd race. By this time James had won the first two races and I finished 2nd in both. I was trailing him by a few boat lengths and he rounded and went to the left. When I came around I found myself to be in a header with a lot more wind on the right while James was in a hole. I went right and played the shifts putting myself ahead of James at the windward mark by a few both lengths and was able to hold that to the finish.
Even though James I did a lot of dueling – he had great speed upwind making him hard to pass. Downwind he had another gear I didn’t have – he was playing the angles in the puffs and had great acceleration. My more dead-down approach lost me a few lengths on each leg.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day of racing. I was a great tune-up for the Laser District Championship in Annapolis coming up in a few weeks. Thanks to George Burke for bringing out a novice RC team and doing a fantastic job running races. Congrats to James, Mike, Josh and everyone on a well-sailed regatta.
A little more wind today made it more of my conditions and despite a bad start in the first race I was able to get to the right of the fleet and found pressure to get back ahead. Dave had to compete with his son which allowed me to stay ahead and win the 1st race.
In the 2nd race Dave beat me to the first mark, but I stayed close on the downwind. I was able to get into a position with right away and Dave capsized in his effort to stay clear and I sailed on to win the race.
In the 3rd race Dave tried to port tack the start and I just stayed clear of that, but made sure to give Mike, just to leeward of me, all the room he needed to close the door on Dave at the pin. Mike and I went to the left, got clear and stayed ahead for the rest of the race. Trip had a great race and picked off Mike to finish 2nd while I finished 1st.
In the 4th race I had a poor start and was back in the fleet and had to push hard around the course to make up a few boats and get back to 2nd. Dave was clear ahead and I settled for 2nd.
Going into the final race of the regatta the wind was starting to get light and I knew I was either tied or 1 point behind Dave in the standings. With no drops I’d need to beat him to win the regatta. I ended up taking a bit of a flier out to one side. Dave smartly covered me, the rest of the fleet passed us and he put some boats between us to safely finish ahead of me and win the regatta.
Thanks to Bob Fleck our PRO for the day and his crew who made the best racing they could with the winds we had. Dave, Mike, Trip, Brad and Alain were great to sail with and we all had some fun competition.
We started FBYC’s 80th Annual One Design Regatta with light winds and a 10-boat Laser fleet. We were set up in the middle of the Piankatank and had some current diagonal to the course that made going downwind a little tough. Upwind being generally to the left and definitely in more pressure helped a bunch. We were on the course with San Juan 21’s and staying clear of them was important too.
Dave was just fast all the way around the course and got 3 bullets on the day. Any time I let him get away and didn’t catch my own great shift – he usually just pulled away. Alain had some good racing – especially the 3rd race where he went left and was first to the new pressure and came across the top of all of us. Brad also had a good day and was near the top most races. I finished 3rd in 4 of the 5 races and 2nd in the other to be sitting in 2nd.
Sunday, the final day at the Laser North American Championship greeted us with a light west wind. We weren’t sure it was going to hold, but it was enough to race in and so we went out and did. With the lighter winds I had better starts, was able to focus on my boat speed and actually play tactics upwind. I was a little out of phase and a little deeper than I wanted on the first leg, but made up some spots on the succeeding legs and finished 23rd.
In the 2nd race of the day and what would be our final race of the regatta – we had a little less consistent wind across the course. I thought I had a good start, but quickly got rolled and had to tack out. As I made my way to the right side I caught some great pressure and tacked on a few shifts to find myself lined up with the leaders about halfway up the beat on the right side. Alas – I kept going right and they went left and while I did great over the people on the right, it was the left that won out. I made a couple moves on the reach and downwind, but it got pretty light on the downwind. Upwind I started as far left as I could in the light air figuring the tide might help me get there if it really goes out. This was great as the wind filed from the left and I passed a few boats, but made the mistake of going to the right for the top 1/3 of the course and left some more spots on the table. Downwind and on the reach I was able to stay ahead of a pack of 5-6 boats and finished 19th.
After 11 races – this was a fantastic event. Thanks to Eric and his family for the place to stay. The volunteers at BBYC did a great job running races, feeding us and keeping everything organized. I’ll definitely be back for more BBYC regattas.