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.
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.
Power returned to Fishing Bay Yacht Club for the 2nd day of the Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship around 9am just before we were set to launch. We had enough wind to sail in, but it was light. It built a bit and we got a race started. Halfway through the race it started to die and we did some floating. There was enough to finish with only the last couple boats being TLE. We were in by noon, had some lasagna and left overs from last night and gave out awards. A 17th in today’s race let me drop a 21 and finish 11th overall and 4th Apprentice Master.
Congrats to Rob Hallawell on his win overall. This regatta could not have happened without Rick Kline, all of the RC, Alain and his chefs, Bryan, Eric, Bob F, Mayo and everyone who helped get the club ready. And it was great seeing all of my Laser sailing friends who come back year after year and thanks for putting up with some inconveniences this year.
It was the first day of racing at the 2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship and we had 51 boat arrive including several who arrived late at night last night. With all of the preparations already made we went through the morning routine and it almost unnoticeable that we didn’t have power.
On the water we found the wind built to a few knots more than forecasted. In the first race I was a little late for the start and had to go upwind in dirty air rounding the first mark below mid-fleet. By the second upwind leg on the modified windward-leeward course I was able to pick some shifts and get within striking distance of the lead group and finished 9th.
At the start of the 2nd race the wind had shifted favoring the port end of the line and I was one of only 2 boats down there set to cross the fleet on port just seconds after the start. Unfortunately for me there was one boat to duck while I was on port and I took my eye off him for a second and managed to tag his transom. Two turns later there were only 3 boats behind me at the windward mark. I sailed well to pick off some boats and finished up in 15th.
For the 3rd race I had a great start in the middle of the course and held my lane well upwind. I was in the top 5 around the windward mark and used some of the downwind knowledge I learned in the previous race to get around a couple boats to round the leeward mark in 3rd. Upwind I held my position and extended on the boats behind while Gavin and Rob extended a little on me, but I was able to come back a bit on them downwind with all of us rounding nose to tail. Upwind on the final beat to the finish I split with the two of them and managed to just get my nose in ahead of Gavin at the finish for a 2nd place.
By the 4th race of the day the wind was at the peak in the upper teens – this would be a triangle windward-leeward course. The wind was also shifty and while I was beating I got a puff and wind sheer that knocked me over before I knew what was happening. I was deep again in this race and managed to pull myself back up to 21.
In the 5th race I had a good start and was able to sail with the lead pack the entire way around the course sailing my way to a 7th. Overall it was a fun day of sailing. We were fortunite not to have any light air where we were guessing where the wind was coming from. Not only did I have good boat speed upwind, I had much better boat speed downwind and felt like I picked up on the improvements I had made last month in Annapolis. When I didn’t hit boats, didn’t tip over and started on time – I did pretty well – I should do more of that!
Saturday evening back at the club we had a wonderful dinner prepared by Alain and his helpers. We fed 93 people – under lights powered by generators with power cords snaked all over the club.
It’s a been a week of preparing for the 2018 Laser Masters Championship at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. Everything from building trophies, pre-cooking breakfast, ordering food to buying all of the other supplies was coming together. Also coming this week was the remnants of hurricane Michael which roared through on Thursday evening. Friday morning I woke up to hear that FBYC was among the hundreds of thousands of customers in Virginia without power and the prospect of getting power before the end of the weekend was slim.
Calling around to our club manager, flag officers and others who are familiar with the systems at FBYC I figured out the following: The club had hosted an event without power after a hurricane in the past and had an electrician wire a place to plug in a generator. The water system had it’s own generator. And 4 J/70s had been knocked over in the dry sail lot. The water system was the only thing that could necessitate cancelling the regatta – it would be unsafe to have that many people at the club without proper sanitation. With the knowledge that we had that solved, I knew once on site we could use some ingenuity to solve the rest of our needs for electricity. I owned a small generator and I borrowed a bigger one from my parents and got on the road to Deltaville by noon.
Once I arrived at the club I found things as expected. I got one of the generators plugged into the refrigerators in the kitchen and worked on other preparations. Mayo Tabb – a member with extensive electrical systems experience came by a short time later and had a way to plug into the club generator outlet that was sized for a very big generator into a more standard household generator. This would enable us to power only 1/3 of the club including the refrigerators and range hood that we would need to cook on the gas stove top. Bob Fleck also brought by a bigger generator and by late afternoon Mayo had scavenged all of the parts to wire everything safely. We used the smaller generator to use the air pumps to inflate the marks and to wire it into the boat lift to get the mark boat lowered into the water.
While this was going on I communicating with the sailors who were driving in from as far away as Michigan, Colorado and Toronto. They knew our facilities would be limited through the weekend without power – few lights at night, no hot water in the showers and that we’d have to conserve water. 1/3 of the fleet was camping out anyway, so lack of power wasn’t going to be much of a concern. It also helped that all of the businesses in Deltaville had power, so at least folks could purchase what they needed. One way or another it was going to make it a memorable weekend and they were all in for the ride. Not a single sailor canceled or didn’t show.
Huge thanks to the club staff Bryan and Eric as well as Bob and Mayo who spent their afternoon Friday helping get things wired together. And thanks to the fleet members Alain, Charlie, Britt, Frank, Mike, Ron and others for help pulling together the other details to make us ready.
Sunday at the US Laser Masters saw more wind as it built through the day. We went out on schedule and sailed the first race in similar wind to yesterday in the 8 knot range as the wind bounced around between 200 and 220 before finally settling in at 210. I had another bad start and had to pick my way through the fleet to finish 26.
By the 2nd race of the day, the wind had built to the mid-teens. I cramped up on the first downwind, wasn’t practiced enough in the wind and waves and ended up with a case of the flipsies. I sailed a little more conservatively downwind after that and kept the boat upright, but would finish 39th.
In the 3rd race of the day and 7th total race the wind was a bit steadier in the 15-20 knot range, I had a good start, but struggled getting the boat dialed in and sailing fast in the stronger breeze. Part of it was being out of shape and the other part of it is probably doing 90% of my sailing in the 5-12 knot range over the past couple years and not having enough time in the boat in those conditions. I would go on to finish 41st.
By the 4th and final race of the regatta the wind was the same, I was a little more comfortable in the boat and making it go in the wind. I sailed conservatively until the very last leg – I passed two boats on the short reach, had the inside track on the pin when a gust hit and I started to round up into the pin boat. I did all I could to dump mainsheet while rotating the boat around just enough so that as I tipped over to windward my mast fell just to leeward of the pin boat. I hadn’t hit anything, I cross the finish line and I even found I could stand up. I righted the boat and sailed in exhausted.
Back on shore we packed up and the awards ceremony was held. I finished 24th overall and received the award for the top Apprentice.
Eric, Mike and everyone at Brant Beach Yacht Club put on a great regatta all the way around. I had a great time visiting with all of the sailors there and enjoyed 3 days of sailing. I’ll be back next year when Brant Beach hosts the open North American Championship Regatta in July.
Saturday’s forecast at the US Laser Masters called for more wind even though it wasn’t looking promising in the morning. We went out anyway and it built to 5-10 out of the south.
In the first race I had a great start and won the pin. I worked left and found more pressure. At the first mark I was 7th out of 67 boats. I tried not to loose too many boats downwind and held my own upwind. I ended up 13th.
For the second race I had a terrible start and parked it on the line while the fleet sailed away. I was in the 40’s at the top mark. I went low downwind and picked up some boats and on the 2nd beat I picked some shifts up the middle right of the course and passed some more boats. I caught another boat or two downwind and finished 20th.
The 3rd race saw me with another terrible start – this time at the boat end. I had a lot of trouble finding clear air and was towards the back of the pack at the first weather mark. Unlike the last race, there weren’t as many passing lanes and I managed a 35th.
By the 4th race I was tired of sailing in dirty air and determined to get a good start. My start wasn’t just good, it was fantastic and I sailed hard to hold my line upwind and stay in the front row. I found my speed to be on par with anyone around me and as we worked our way out to the middle left of the course I found myself crossing fewer and fewer boats and having all the clear air I desired. I was in 3rd at the top mark and sailed just as well if not better downwind by going high and passed another boat by the gate. Upwind I sailed fast, picked shifts, and found myself in 2nd again but to a different leader at the top mark. Downwind I sailed fast but conservatively so as not to do anything stupid. I again went a little high of the guys chasing just to ensure I had clear air. When we came back together, one boat slipped by and I was able to finish in 3rd. It was pretty amazing to hang with some great sailors and gave me a thirst to try and do more of that tomorrow.
That got me to 15th overall after 4 races with more planned tomorrow. In masters scoring, my handicap as an Apprentice Master (35-35) means 3 points is added to each race finish. Older sailors get fewer handicap points. That evening I enjoyed another dinner at the club restaurant while we watched the sun set over the water and retired early to rest up for more wind promised tomorrow.
I got a late start out of Richmond on Thursday night and finished the 2nd half of the drive this morning arriving at Brant Beach Yacht Club 45 minutes before the skippers meeting. We ended up being postponed on shore another 45 minutes before finally leaving around 12:30.
We would go out and float around another 2 1/2 hours without any wind really filling in. I tried making a GoPro video that made it look as if we really were sailing fast. Kind of glad I did – I took some underwater video and only after reviewing it later did I realize how bad the weeds really were despite not looking bad on the surface. Also note how shallow the bay is.
Back on shore the sailors enjoyed a great dinner in the club house and watched the sunset as the club’s A-Cat Raven sailed by.
Sunday saw the conditions lay down a bit from the winds we saw Saturday and we were back out on the ocean sailing under overcast skies and 10-15 knot winds in rather large and lumpy swells. I made it out to the race course, but felt absolutely awful out there as we waited to get racing started. After being so uncomfortable out there I left before the first race and would get an early start on the trip back home. I would later figure out that the breakfast bars I had been eating hadn’t been agreeing with me and had actually been making me feel bad all weekend. Make that a lesson for next time.
Even though I didn’t get as much sailing as I might have wanted, it was still nice to enjoy some warm weather, see some old friends and get away for a bit. I am looking forward to more sailing in a few months when it warms up in VA.
After postponing on shore in what was looking to be some gnarly winds, the race committee took everyone out to the harbor for some short course racing in an alternate format. I made the decision to bail on the day and jump on the committee boat for a front row seat. The alternate format meant todays races only counted as one race in the regatta. In the end it wasn’t as bad as it felt on land or was predicted and I was a bit bummed to skip sailing it.