Friday was day one at the ILCA National Championship at Brant Beach Yacht Club and we found ourselves with more wind than was forecast which is always welcome. Being out of the SSE it was windy enough to be hiking yet fully powered up, if not a little overpowered without having to de-power or feature to keep the boat up.
I was sailing in the 49 boat ILCA 7 class in only my 3rd day in the boat this year – and it showed. I stunk up the first race and just never got comfortable in the maneuvers. It didn’t help that I was also sailing with a brand new sail. The last time I did that was 6 years ago and lets just say I’ve forgotten how to tune a sail that isn’t blown out.
Eventually by the second race I figured out how to point and go fast again upwind despite being slow on the reaches. For most of the races I focused on starting in clear air and generally being on the right side of the course. Some times I was more successful at this than others. I tried not to make any big mistakes. Seaweed would be an issue all day. We weren’t sailing fast enough to keep it from clumping on the blades.
Late in the day the current started to come down the course and started favoring the left upwind. I finished very consistently around 30th. Two more days to go.
We had a super day for the FBYC One Design Long Distance Race. I was sailing an ILCA, one of 3 in the race, including one that sailed off a beach in Mathews to join us, against 10 other boats ranging from Melges 15s to Flying Scots to a Front Runner and a Rocket.
We started in Godfrey Bay and did a short leg upwind to #12 in the Piankatank in 8 knots out of the ENE. The first mark could be fetched from the start, but just barely so a boat end start was critical. I was a few seconds late following a Melges 15 who was a little early and bore off leaving a nice hole for me to start. Another ILCA was behind me and behind them was a Flying Scot.
Upwind I tried to hold my line and make the Flying Scot go around me. I ended up rounding 3rd as we headed east on an almost upwind angle to Piankatank #8. As we passed Stove Point the clear fetch enabled the wind to build to the low teens. My decision not to wear hiking pants didn’t seem so wise. The Front Runner passed me on this leg leaving me in 4th as we went nearly upwind again to FBYC-B just off Stove Point. Thus far everything has been almost upwind and I was in 5th as we turned to go back.
The course in reverse was still a lot of reaching making it hard for the symmetrical boats to fly their chutes and even the asymmetrical spinnaker boats weren’t able to fly their chutes all of the way back. It was great reaching conditions for the ILCA and I was able to reel in the Front Runner and the Flying Scot on the long leg back to 12. Eventually 1 Melges 15 got around me and I was the 4th boat over the line behind 3 Melges 15s and corrected to 3rd overall.
Thanks to Lew and his team for running our races and congrats to Walker on a well sailed race.
We had a light-air day for the first day of ILCA sailing at Fishing Bay Yacht Club for the ILCA Spring Regatta. We shared the course with the Flying Scots and first race at FBYC of the Melges 15.
I had a good start in the first race and held my speed against Reed and Scott. Near the top mark I went the wrong way and rounded behind both of them. Holly was just behind. Downwind I caught up and passed Scott at the mark and then on the second long upwind he went left while I went right into even less wind allowing Scott to get back ahead and stay there to the finish.
In the second race the ILCA were started with the Melges 15. I started down at the pin to keep boats from port-tacking the fleet.
For the second race – the ILCA were started with the Melges 15. From there it was just following the other ILCA around the course. What we didn’t do, however, is follow the Melges 15 around the course. This was the first day for many of those sailors in those boats, though it was interesting to see their speed in such light air.
In final race the ILCA were started together with the remaining Flying Scots and the Melges 15. The wind was continuing to die and we just needed to get racing on al already shortened course. At the start I creeped up to the line at the boat end and just got there a little too soon and had to wait for the fleet to sail away so I could duck and clear my OCS. The rest of the race went much like the rest, the ILCA sailed out ahead of the other fleets upwind and I was still unable to catch Reed or Scott and finished 3rd for the 3rd time today. It was a nice day to shake the cobwebs out and thanks to David H and the RC for getting us as much racing as the wind would allow.
Over the years I’ve had a wide variety of methods for transporting Lasers around. Everything from 2x4s on the roof of a van to aluminum trailers specifically built to lasers to a giant van the laser went inside of. I’m back to cartopping a Laser and my new vehicle is a 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SUV. Back when I had a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen – I learned what worked pretty well for cartopping and here’s what I’ve recreated for the Volkswagen Atlas.
Thule Bars, end Caps
These hold the boat – I like to get bars longer than the boat is wide to make it easy to tie the boat down and leave room for the spars out the side. The 78″ ones are more than enough and I could likely cut them down if I wanted a little less likely of catching something. 78″ is exactly the width of the Atlas from the edges of each side view mirror. The end caps don’t do much other than make it cleaner. Good quality pads are needed to protect the boat. I’ve got 2 20″ Dorsal pads on each bar. Thule makes 18″ ones and there are a variety of alternatives. These also have the effect of cutting down on wind noise when a boat is not present.
It seems that since I originally set this up in 2019 that Thule is no longer selling the longer version of the Load Bars (LB78 or LB65). Look for alternatives of an appropriate length.
These will be a bit more specific to the vehicle. For both of my vehicles that had a roof rack that ran fore/aft these universal feet were able to grip around them. Note they also must match the roof bars, so if you get different bars, be sure to get the feet that match. These feet have a rubber coated metal strap that goes underneath the bar to secure it. The end cap has a built-in allen wrench used for tightening them. The end caps themselves seem a little loose without the lock cylinders so a set of those is necessary and to ensure the rack doesn’t disappear. Tip: if you think you would use other Thule products, buy extra lock cylinders so they are identically keyed or visit a vendor in the future who will sell matching cylinders. (If buying the paddle holders – go for the 8 or 10 pack so everything keys the same)
These paddle holders are great for transporting spars – they are big enough to go around 3 spars at a time – lower, upper and boom. With the Jetta when I traveled with the Radial lower I just put it in the car. With the Atlas I wanted the ability to travel with the Radial lower and a spare upper, so that’s why I have the extra wide bars and got two sets of Paddle Holders. Note in the picture the inner set are backwards, I ended up having to turn these around so the tightening strap pulls away from the vehicle in both sets. The lock cylinders can also be put on these – the paddle holders will hold the spars securely without locking, the locks just prevent anything from disappearing.
Spars can be transported without a cover just fine – they just get a little buggy on long trips. I prefer to use the spar bag to keep them clean and make it easier to load and unload 1 thing instead of 3. Be sure to tuck in the extra material and handles to keep things from flapping.
There’s two ways I like to tie the boat down – two straps over the hull where the roof bars are. These are made rather tight and do 100% of the work of keeping the boat on the car. The forward one should be forward of the max beam of the boat so if the boat does slide forward, the strap is smaller than the beam and the boat can’t slide through it. These straps have rubber to protect the boat and easily cinch the strap tight. The loose end of the strap gets tucked into the cover on the underside.
The other straps I use attach to the bow eye and the rudder gudgeons. These are not intended to be super tight and do very little to keep the boat on the car. They are really just there for emergency use in case another strap fails or the rack itself fails – this will keep the boat with the car – and limit damage to the boat, car or anyone else. I don’t like making this tight so that it doesn’t ‘bend’ the boat over the car nor put a lot of stress on the bow eye or gudgeons for long periods of time while the boat is racked. Thule makes a set of quick ties that use a ratchet system with some hooks to easily attach and tighten them. It comes with some webbing straps – I attach these to the boat before putting the covers on and slip them out the holes in the cover before putting the boat on the roof so they can be easily hooked to.
Thule and other sell Aero bars – but these are sold to a width matching the roof bars and cannot extend much beyond that – making them less suitable for the Laser with the spars on the side. They would work boat only. And it’s not possible to just buy a wider bar than compatible for the vehicle, they won’t fit – I tried.
Thule LoadBar is different than the SquareBar and the LoadBar appears to be a product they are starting to do away with.
Put the spars on the driver side so when making a quick stop to check things, it doesn’t require walking all the way around the car.
Yakima has a line of roof bars that are also widely used.
Another accessory I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of is a bike rack. Great for taking a bike along when rigging or camping just a little away from the clubhouse and a great way to get around when parking is tight.
After over a week of preparation it was time for the 40th Annual Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship. This year was quite easy compared to the stress of last year and running an event during the pandemic and planning it not knowing if we would be able to have it. And being the 40th – we had a couple special things planned to commemorate it.
Not only was I running the event, but I also sailed in it. I don’t tend to treat this as a serious competitive event for myself as my attention is often on on running it, but it’s not often I have a chance to test my mettle against 51 boats of great competition on my home waters, so I try to put up a good showing. With that being said – I didn’t get off to a great start in the first race having fouled Luke just off the starting line and was behind almost everyone after doing my turns. I spent the rest of race focused on staying in clear air and pressure and picking shifts. It helped that there were a lot of boats ahead of me and on all sides of the course to see the angles on upwind and help figure out where to go. I picked well and was able to pick my way through the fleet to finish 3rd. I probably wouldn’t have finished that well had I not had such a bad start and had to watch everyone else.
In the second race I got rolled shortly after the start and shoved out the back and never recovered. I didn’t have a good feel for the boat likely due to sailing in dirty air. There were only 3 boats behind me at the 1st weather mark and I was only able to climb up to 21st by the end.
In the 3rd race I had a great start and even though I was around some of the fast boats, I was able to stay ahead in clear air. I managed to race with the lead pack most of the way around the course swapping positions at times. I was 6th at the bottom mark before the final upwind leg to the finish. I stayed left and picked off several boats, but got passed by Scot and Adam who passed everyone else to win it. James sailed into a hole allowing me and David to catch up with David finished just ahead of James and me just behind. The wind got pretty light at the end and a 4th place finish left me in the top quarter of the fleet after the first day of racing.
At dinner we celebrated 40 year with Alain telling us the story of how the regatta was started and we had several special guests who sailed in the event that first year. A group of regulars also presented a perpetual trophy to be awarded to the first woman.
The forecast Sunday wasn’t nearly as good as the day prior, but we were determined to sail if there was wind. We sailed out in light wind and got one light air race started. I played the middle-left on the first beat and rounded the first mark in 5th, proceeded to go the wrong way downwind, lost a few boats and finished 9th overall. We stayed out on the water for over an hour hoping the wind would come for another race, but it never did settle in and we pulled the plug and sailed in.
David Waiting won the Championship for the 2nd time – a well-sailed event having not even won a race among some stiff competition. Huge thanks to Rick Klein and the RC for getting us racing and to Alain for another great dinner!
Fishing Bay’s ILCA Fall Regatta started windy in the 12-15 knot range and gusty though not quite surfing conditions downwind. I focused on my starts and mostly had good starts towards the boat. As the day went on we eventually found 2 different winds on the course – a more lefty and gusty breeze in the middle of the river, and sometimes a much more right and sometimes puffy breeze on the right. The timing to go right was key, miss it and you were toast, hit it right and you were golden. Generally the left did ok until it didn’t. The closed start/finish line made the downwind legs more of a course and a little less tactical.
In the final race wind was down a bit, I was starting at the pin as i saw more wind to the left, only as the final minute counted down I could see the wind going even more left – so far that I would be able to port tack the fleet if I could just put some space between myself and David. I pulled the trigger just right and tacked ahead of him by 4-5 boat lengths and lead the rest of the way around. Also sailed with a closed start/finish line which meant sailing more of a course downwind rather than picking the optimal wind/wave direction.
It was great having some Annapolis sailors come join us – great practice for them on the waters of next weekends’ masters regatta.
Brant Beach Yacht Club would host the 2021 ILCA Masters Atlantic Coast Championship on what would be a rather windy August weekend. I started well in the first race, had a reasonable first leg in the middle to upper part of the 30 boat standard fleet. Downwind I got the flipsies and ended up towards the back of the fleet. The second race went much the same and after flipping too many times I called it a day and skipped the final race.
I intended to race on Sunday, but upon arrival at the club it was clear that I had re-aggravated a foot injury from the prior weekend. With some travel and other activities I have coming up the next month, I didn’t want to put any of that in jeopardy and packed up the boat and headed home early.
We had a light air day for the second of the FBYC ILCA Summer Regattas. We sailed in Fishing Bay just off the dock in a SSW sea breeze. 5 races were sailed until some weather started rolling in. With 10 boats out, I had all top 5 finishes aside from the last race that I needed to skip in order to pack up and get back to Richmond.
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.
Sunday saw a bit more wind than we had the prior two days for ILCA Nationals. It was windy up in the river, it actually calmed down a bit once we were at the sailing area in the James. With the wind in the upper teens and the same head on current we had seen the prior two days, upwind was a slog.
In the first race of the day I actually moved the boat and picked some shifts fairly well to be really close to the top 10 at the top mark, only I miss-judged the lay line with the current and with no where to go with a pack of boats just above me, I ended up missing the mark and having to circle around and duck a bunch of boats to get back to the mark. From there I just held on and finished 28th.
In the 2nd race the wind was up another knot or two, same direction, same current. I was holding on around mid-fleet when I lost it downwind and death rolled. The current and wind made it hard to get the boat turned and righted so I lost a bunch of boats on that leg. I caught a few folks on the next two legs and finished 30th. Out of energy with the wind continuing to increase a bit, I decided I had enough fun for the weekend and skipped the last race.
It was great to sail with some folks I hadn’t seen in quite a while and nice to be able to sail a big event much closer to home. Thanks to Norfolk Yacht and Country Club and ODU Sailing for all the effort they put into this event. Given the scheduling and re-scheduling of it over the past year, it was no easy feat.