Aboard Mad Hatter at the start of the Rescue Regatta.

This year Fishing Bay Yacht Club joined up with Stingray Harbor Yacht Club and the Middlesex County Rescue Squad to do a fundraiser regatta in place of what had been FBYC’s Delta Dash race. This year the race would be a 10 mile triangle with a progressive start – ie the slow boats start first and the faster boats start last and first over the finish line wins. It was still broken down by class, but it was fun for a bit to race boat for boat and try to catch the boats ahead.

Sailing downwind with the faster boats just behind and yet to catch us.

I was sailing on Mad Hatter and the wind started out great – in the 10-12 knot range as everyone was gearing up to start. With the wind out of the north the first leg was pretty close hauled. We quickly passed a couple of the boats who started just ahead of us and after a little over 4 miles of sailing there were just a couple boats still ahead of us.

Mad Hatter being passed by Sting and Excitation. Photo by Paul Almany.

The second leg was mostly downwind and the wind started to ease a bit. We put up the symmetrical spinnaker and gybed toward shore hoping for more wind. All the while the fast boats were catching us. After 2 miles of sailing – Sting, Afterthought and Excitation had caught us and rounded just inside the mark. We did a sail change and switched directly from a symmetrical spinnaker to an asymmetrical spinnaker. That worked for a while, but when the wind got really light, that sail didn’t do much and other boats with symmetrical spinnakers started catching up to us. Eventually we went back to the symmetrical, but by then Sting, Excitation and Afterthought were gone and all we could do was hold off Shenanigan and Schiehallion. As we started to get back towards the Piankatank the wind picked up again. We would finish shortly before 3pm which was the time limit for racing. Only 6 boats would finish the race before the time limit expired.


Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.
Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.

Fishing Bay Yacht Club had a gorgeous day in April to open the season. After a flag raising 7 boats in 3 classes headed out for 10nm race out into the bay and back to shake out the cobwebs and get the season started. Sailing out on Mad Hatter we had 7-10 knots of wind out of the ESE. All of the boats were starting at the same time and even though Nanuq and Sting were technically in the PHRF-A class and we were in the PHRF-B/C class – we saw them as the boats to beat on corrected time.

We got into sequence and the race committee realized there was a mistake in the posted course so we postponed for a moment while they fixed it and went into sequence again. At the start we along with Nanuq, and Schiehallion were over early and all had to go back. This gave Sting a bit of a head start. The fleet could largely lay the first mark and the leg to the second mark was more upwind. We went right and inshore with Sting while Nanuq went left and out in to the bay. When we all came back together Sting was ahead and Nanuq just behind. By the time we got out into the bay the wind was much lighter and were were going just 3-4 knots. At that mark we turned and put up a chute and had a pretty straight shot past the mark we started with and then onto the finish. We wouldn’t have to gibe. Nanuq with the longer waterline and an asymmetrical sail was able to get ahead of us, but wouldn’t make up her time on correction. Wendas who was well behind us on the course would end up correcting over us by around a minute to win the B/C fleet.

I was pit and floater for the day, helping with tactics, monitoring the radio, trimming the guy and moving around to keep weight in the right spot. I also brought a couple cameras with me and got some footage aboard.


After the Snipe broke yesterday, Jess and I were without a plan for racing FBYC’s Open House Regatta on Saturday.  At 9pm Saturday night that plan came together and we would sail on Mad Hatter with the Flecks. This race is a progressive start distance race – meaning the slowest boast start first and the fastest boats start first and whoever finishes first wins.  This year featured a wide variety of boats including a 30′ trimaran and a Wasp. The weather was slightly overcast, warm with 12-14 knot winds.

We had a great start, hitting our time perfectly.  Only two of the legs were downwind for us, so that kept the spinnaker work for me up on the bow down to a minimum. We sailed the rhumb line and kept the boat going pretty well.  In the end the boat to beat was a 29er – who were able to fly a chute on the tight reaches much better than any of the other boats.  We finished 4th.

Following the race – we rafted up with a couple dozen other boats in Fishing Bay and got to hang out with everyone for a couple hours.  Later we took the boat back around to the dock and joined the dinner and listened to the band.


9/1 Stingray Light Distance Race - Mad Hatter

The Stingray Light Distance Race kicks off Labor Day weekend with a distance race as part of the Stingray Point Regatta at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. I was sailing on Mad Hatter for the day and we knew the weather was going to deteriorate as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey moved into the area bringing light rain and cooler temperatures.

The course started near Stingray Point and sent us straight out into the bay.  The ENE wind made it a beat out.  We rounded a mark and came back towards Stove Point on a reach under genoa and main.  Goin’ was the closest competitor to us and we mostly were able to hold even and stay ahead until we started reaching more and they were able to plane.  Despite the drizzle it was fun being out and sailing.


Today was quite a breezy day for the 2nd Offshore Fall Series day at Fishing Bay Yacht Club.  Rather than get beat up in the cold and wet conditions most of the J/70s decided to bail and crew on bigger boats.  I ended up on Mad Hatter.

We sailed two races with winds in the low 20’s that eventually eased off a little bit in the 2nd race.  I was mostly in the back of the boat helping trim genoa.


This year the Smith Point race was a bit of a slog with a 15-20 knot north wind.  I sailed on Mad Hatter and this year we didn’t make it to Smith Point light house until around 9:30.  But the spinnaker run all the way down the bay back to the Piankatank was quite nice.  Arriving at nearly 1am we were one of the last to finish, but still corrected over everyone else out there who sailed the long course.  Thanks again to Bob, Lisa and crew for having me along!


Smith Point Race - Course AThis year for the Smith Point Race at Fishing Bay Yacht Club I sailed on an Olson 911S called Mad Hatter owned by Bob and Lisa Fleck.  We sailed in the PHRF-B fleet with close competition form a Tarten 40 and a Tarten 10.  The Smith Point Race is a 57nm race starting in the mouth of the Piankatank River heading east across the Chesapeake Bay then North to the the Smith Point Light house at the entrance of the Potomac River and then back to the Piankatank leaving Stingray Point to starboard.

8/24/2013 Smith Point Race - Bob & Lisa Fleck on Mad Hatter.

We started out at 2pm with the race expected to take about 10-12 hours.  The forecast was for an east wind 12-18 all afternoon/evening with an outgoing tide starting shortly after the start.

On the leg across the bay we were close reaching and we stayed above everyone else in the fleet.  When the wind went a little south, this helped give us leverage to round in second – behind only Chilcoot from the A-fleet.  On the reach up the bay we were quickly run down by the J-105 Corryvreckan.  The short choppy and confused waves made the going a little tough. Towards the end of the leg to Smith point we had the chute up reaching and all of the bouncing around kept collapsing the chute.  We arrived at Smith Point just at sun down.

8/24/2013 Smith Point Race

The way back in the dark was almost upwind and the wind slowly eased from 16 to about 12.  Halfway back I helmed and we did a sail change up to the No 1.  When we got to the Piankatank we turned west, put the chute up and finished the race as the 3rd boat over the line and 1st overall on corrected time by 10 minutes.  Results.

8/24/2013 Smith Point Race - Smith Point Light