Rigging in the rain for day 2 at the Sunshine Open at Severn Sailing Association.
Rigging in the rain for day 2 at the Sunshine Open at Severn Sailing Association.

Arrived for day 2 of the Sunshine Open at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis to plenty of rain and even a little thunder. It looked like most of the weather coming was going to be light but likely to persist into the early afternoon. We launched on time and sailed in area C at the mouth of the Severn River.

After a short postponement we got racing in 8-12 knots of wind. For the first race I started at the boat just a tiny bit late and was able to rack out to the right into what looked like some better pressure. By the top mark I was in second just behind Bob T. Downwind I went low and easily passed Bob and extended. On the next upwind I held my position with James, Dave and others just behind me. I didn’t keep the boat going early in the final downwind and 4 boats went right around me leaving me in 5th.

By the second race the wind had picked up to 10-13 and my not so great start at the pin left me just in the top 10 at the top mark. As we went downwind the wind started to ease a bit. I went left seeing the wind going that way as it continued to ease while the rest of the fleet went mostly right. The wind got down to 4-6 and with the left over waves on top of the left to right current made going upwind a real slog. The left paid and I was in 3rd just on Luke’s stern with Dave just ahead of us. The downwind took forever but we finished in those places putting me in 3rd for the race and bringing me up to 5th overall. It had looked like they were going to shorten course for us and they eventually did for the radials sparing them from having to sail downwind again. With little wind we headed in. Congratulations to Dave who was able just ahead of James to win the weekend. It was fun sailing in the top of the fleet with Ted, link, Craig and others. Thanks to Scott, Kat, Gavin and everyone at SSA who made the weekend possible!


The forecast for day one at the Sunshine Open ILCA Regatta at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis wasn’t very good. After the skippers meeting, we postponed ashore for 25 minutes or so until we started to see a little bit of wind to sail in out in the harbor. It was cloudy and overcast with a very light air forecast. The cloudy conditions helped keep the power boats away enabling us to sail in the Severn River on a short course.

On the deck at Severn Sailing Association during the Skippers' meeting of the Sunshine Open.
Skipper’s meeting with little wind

The wind was out of the west and current was coming right out of the Severn River down the course. At the first start I misjudged my timing to the line on account of the current and ended up being late and 3 rows deep. I crossed behind almost everyone and did my best to go fast and find pressure arriving at the top mark around mid fleet. I managed to catch a couple boats on the downwind and after 2 laps finished 10th.

In the second race, I had the timing for the start about perfect and had Dave just below me and only Craig between me and the boat. Craig tacked out early; I kept going for a few more lengths before tacking out into pressure. Craig and I went up the first 1/3 of the leg on the right while most of the fleet was to the left. I started picking puffs and shifts and by the top mark I was a good 150 yards ahead of the guys behind me. I played it a little too conservative on the rest of the course and wound up getting passed on the next two legs, finishing 6th, as the wind started to taper off and the current picked up.

Without a good prospect for more wind we were sent in. James won both races and sits in first with Dave just behind him. Then there are 4 boats within a point of each other and a few more points back to another couple boats and me in 9th.

Tomorrow’s forecast is looking for good wind, but likely rain all day.


Day 2 at the Capital City Regatta saw more wind than Saturday and pleasant racing conditions. Starting the day sailing in actual wind, it was clear I was pretty rusty from the nearly 5 months since the last time I sailed in wind – not counting yesterday’s near windless day. It didn’t take me long to flip the boat on the way to the course and I would flip 4 more times in the first two races before the wind eased a bit and I started to feel more comfortable in the boat again.

In the first two races I had good speed in the wind and small waves, I was just making a lot of mistakes (like flipping over) and getting out of phase because I was focused on the boat and not getting my head up to look around as much.

At the starting line of one of the early races

By the 3rd race of the day the wind had come down a bit, I was comfortable in the boat, cleaned up my maneuvers and started to make the boat go while getting my head out of the boat. That didn’t stop me from going the wrong way, missing shifts or getting out of phase, but mostly eliminated the silly mistakes I was making earlier. One challenge of staying in phase was what I would call the sucker puffs. Seeing a momentary lift and tacking on it, only to be in a header by the time the tack was completed. Mike and Tom were fast in this race and we traded places a few times, though I was able to stay ahead at the end to win that race.

Sailing downwind with the fleet hot on my stern
Sailing downwind with the fleet hot on my stern

By the 4th race the wind dropped again and got a little fluky and puffy. I made the right work and led the first leg and extended 1/4 leg ahead of the fleet, but on the 2nd upwind I tried to make the right work again and Lauren found a lot more wind in the middle left and went right around me and on to win the race.

Farley crossing just behind Jon
Farley crossing just behind Jon

In the 5th race I again played the middle right and got passed by the boats more left. Rounding the first mark around 7th I was able to climb a few spots to finish 4th. I didn’t know it at the time, but going into the last race I was one point behind Lauren overall. I knew it was close and I just knew I needed sail fast. The wind was light, barely necessitating sitting out. I kept my nose clean and found the pressure to get out ahead and stay there. Lauren would finish right behind me tying us for first which I would end up winning in the tiebreaker on account of winning 2 races.

Todd, Lauren, Jon and Tyler at the awards
Todd, Lauren, Jon and Tyler at the awards

It was a great regatta and a nice way to get an early start on the season. Thanks to Tyler, Nabeel, Jacob, Farley and everyone at PRSA who helped put on the regatta and helped me with logistics to be there!

PRSA Race Committee
Race Committee during racing


We had a rainy start to the first day of the Capital City Regatta hosted by Potomac River Sailing Association at the Washington Sailing Marina in Washington DC near the Reagan Airport. This would be my first time in an ILCA since the ILCA Chesapeake Bay Masters in November. The forecast was for some rain early and clearing with some sun and mid-60’s late in the afternoon. That didn’t happen – it was drizzling when we arrived and did so on and off through the rest of the day.

At the skippers meeting the wind was pretty light. They considered holding us onshore, but it started to fill and we went out on time.

Out on the course after waiting a bit for the wind to fill we got into sequence. The wind was light and fickle out of the west. The river runs North to South here and as the day went on the current began to ebb more. I started at the boat wanting to get to the right with a bit of a second row start. I immediately went right and was one of the right-most boats. For a while I was looking punched out and then at the top mark James came in from the left having spent more time in pressure. At the top mark I ended up parking it in no wind as the boats behind caught up and the boats ahead got away. Downwind I would get passed and then at the downwind mark get pinwheeled to the outside. I used my speed upwind on the second beat to consolidate and after another lap finished 4th despite being as low as 10 in the 19-boat fleet. Many boats didn’t finish before the time limit.

James, Eric & Lauren after the first race
James, Eric & Lauren after the first race

We waited around for close to an hour and with no sign of wind and no increase in temperature, we headed in and had burgers and chicken.


The starting line of the first race - by Lisa Fleck
The starting line of the first race – by Lisa Fleck

We didn’t expect as much wind as we got – in fact it was too much for the Flying Scots while 7 ILCA and 2 Melges 15 ventured out into winds in the mid-teens.

The first race was a very long one. I broke my tiller extension universal joint while sailing the first downwind leg. I had been in the lead and I lost a couple boats while I stopped to replace it. I was able to pass one of the boats that passed me to finish in 3rd.

Another starting line shot of the ILCA and Melges 15 - by Jenny H
Another starting line shot of the ILCA and Melges 15 – by Jenny H

The course was shortened significantly for the remaining races and it was a dead heat between myself and Reed. I would win 2 of the final 3, but his bullet in the first race and my 3rd was enough to give him a point advantage.

Had fun sailing with Reed, Len, Todd, Brad and Holly on what was a rare windy summer day. Thanks to Clark, Rick and crew for running the races.


ILCA ready to go at Hampton Yacht Club
ILCA ready to go at Hampton Yacht Club

Day 1 at the ILCA US Masters Championship at Hampton Yacht Club called for wind and we got it. After sailing in light air all summer, I wasn’t too ready for winds in the upper teens gusting into the low 20’s. After the early morning drive to Hampton, unloading and the competitor’s meeting the plan was for 2 races for the 21-boat ILCA7 fleet and 12 boat ILCA6 fleets.

Windy racing
Windy racing

The course was set just south east of the entrance to the Hampton River and was to be a long race with reaching legs. The starts were a little tricky – the RC was running a 3-minute horn sequence that was difficult to hear over the flapping sails and the only visual signal was the P-flag that was up for exactly 1 minute. I had a pretty good start in the first race a bit down the line. With only 21 boats out there, we had plenty of room and as the fleet spread out upwind I was able to get to the right. I came into the top mark right in the tail end of the pack. Downwind felt good, I had the boat moving in the waves and closed the gap on some boats ahead. In the second upwind it became clear there were more shifts to catch and some boats gained and others didn’t. From there we reached out to the wing and to a mark way below the course before another long beat back to the finished. All race I stayed engaged with the tail end of the pack and finished 12th.

Fleet sailing downwind.
Fleet sailing downwind.

In the 2nd race the wind had picked up a little more. I missed the starting horn, but was close enough to the line that when I saw the pack of boats lining up, I was able find a spot and be ready. Unfortunately, 20 seconds before the gun the universal joint connecting the tiller to the extension snapped. I limped over the line so that I’d start in the time limit and then sat for about 3-4 minutes while I got a spare fitting out of my life jacket and set to screwing out the old on and in the new. By the time I was going I was way behind the 7 fleet and just ahead of the 6 fleet and did my best to get upwind and catch some boats.

Downwind I was starting to catch up to the tail-enders and I started cramping up. In trying to not cramp, my reflexes weren’t as sharp and I eventually death rolled and went swimming. From there I just sailed conservatively and eventually was able to reel in a couple boats. I finished 16th – way better than a DNF.

For those wondering how I replaced a tiller extension universal on the water – for years I’ve sailed with a Forespar Carbon Fiber Tiller extension that has a screw in universal joint. I make sure it’s not too tight so I can easily unscrew it with a small pair of pliers in my life jacket or my teeth if I have to. I keep an extra universal joint in my life jacket that comes in handy every couple years on a starting line like today and definitely saves a day of sailing instead of having to go in to fix it. There’s also the base fitting to retrofit most tillers.


On day 2 of the Mid Atlantic ILCA Championship at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club there was no sign of any wind at 9am so we postponed ashore for an hour and a half. Most of the fleet sat around telling stories and talking about various mostly masters sailing topics. When it became clear the wind was filling and AP was going to be lifted, the discussion was taken to the floor where everyone started stretching and discussing the best way to keep various body parts limber for light air sailing.

Waiting for wind on the sailing center patio.
Waiting for wind on the sailing center patio.

Out on the race course we had a little more wind than yesterday and the wind was a little East of North putting the windward leg of the course just west of the Lafayette River channel. I knew we’d have funny current again and I even studied the depth chart last night. We started the first race in 6 knots of wind and I managed to go the wrong way at every opportunity. Even when I did manage to pass someone, I still went the wrong way again and finished dead last.

The fleet ahead sailing downwind.
The fleet ahead sailing downwind.

In the 2nd race of the day, having gone the wrong way at every opportunity, I knew doing the exact opposite had to to be somewhat better. I had a second row start at the boat at the start, but I immediately tacked out and banged the right corner while most of the rest of the fleet preferred the middle left of the course. Not only did that get me out of the current that was dead on the nose up the course on port tack, but also got me some great lifts approaching the weather mark. I was launched and easily 20-30 boat lengths ahead of the fleet. This was a 3 lap race and for the rest of the race I favored the right and continued a loose cover on the guys behind me and took the bullet.

In the 3rd race, the fleet was on to me and my tactics, and there was no way I was getting away out to the right again. I had plenty of company and spent most of the race in a pack of boats 4-5-6. At one point I rounded inside and ahead of the pack of boats at a leeward mark, only to miss some shifts and get passed downwind to finish 6th.

Sailing downwind in the 2nd race of the day.
Sailing downwind in the 2nd race of the day.

The wind had continued to build and by the 4th race of the day we were seeing double digit speeds and were able to sit out and occasionally even do some hiking in the puffs. With more wind, the right side of the course and playing the current wasn’t so critical, and there were some lifts to catch in the middle of the course. Alex, Dave and Adam all played the middle left, while I came in from the right on the first beat and I followed them around the course in 4th for the first 2 laps. On the final beat I again banged the right while they all raced each other to the left. At this point we knew this was to be the last race and they were close on points, I was not going to get a top 3 finish no matter how we did. As we came into that top mark, I ended up about 8 boat lengths ahead of Dave and Alex. Downwind they both caught some power boat waves and surfed down to me. I protected the inside and made Dave go just far enough around me at the gate before the finish that I was able to just barely beat him over the line and take the gun.

Today’s racing felt a lot better than yesterdays and it was great winning a couple races which vaulted me up to fourth overall.

Scott, Britt, Mike M, Mike C, Craig, Jon, Dave, & Alex at the awards.
Scott, Britt, Mike M, Mike C, Craig, Jon, Dave, & Alex at the awards.

Thanks again to Duffy and everyone at NYCC for putting on a well-run event and making the most of the wind we had. It was a fun and competitive fleet and looking forward to the next event in Hampton in two week.


ILCA Sailing near the Port of Norfolk
ILCA Sailing near the Port of Norfolk

Today was all going to plan until I got 2/3 of the way to Norfolk this morning and realized I didn’t pack my blade/line bag. I drove most of the way back to Richmond where Jess met me along 64 with the bag. I arrived at Norfolk Yacht & Country Club after the skippers meeting and just as the boats were starting to launch. 25 minutes later I was rigged and ready to launch and didn’t miss any sailing.

ILCA Between races during the NYCC Mid-Atlantic ILCA Championship
Between races

It was to be a very light air day. We sailed just out to where the Lafayette River meets the Elizabeth River with a NNW wind at 4-6 all day. There was little current when we started, but as the day went on it pushed us up course out the Elizabeth River and later pushed us across the course out of the Lafayette River.

I generally had good starts today, usually at the boat. Early in the day I favored the middle right of the course and later started banging the left corner as the current came across the course and helped fetch the mark along with lifts. Most of the day I was mid-fleet in our 9-boat fleet at the first weather mark.

The fleet ahead sailing downwind.

Downwind was very slow and difficult. Often the wind was going opposite the current and it was very hard to feel how the boat was going. Most races I lost boats downwind except for the last race where I went right downwind and went around everyone and rounded the leeward mark first. Alex would get me on the windward leg making my best finish a 2nd and a great way to end the day.

Sailing in light air last weekend definitely helped. What I wasn’t used to, was light-air sailing with traffic and I made a good number of mistakes around other boats and lost some places in the process. That includes some close finishes. I did a good job to not make many tactical mistakes and my boat speed was reasonable given the hunting-for-wind conditions.

On the tow in.
On the tow in

Following the 5th race of the day the wind completely shut off as some storms approached the area and we were towed in. After racing we hung out at the club sharing sailing stories over hot dogs and hamburgers.


We managed to have a five boat ILCA fleet that came together at the last minute. We sailed in Godfrey Bay along with ten Melges 15, three Windmills, 7 Hampton One Designs and a few San Juan 21 and a international Canoe. 29 Flying Scots sailed their Atlantic Coast Championship on another course.

Melges 15 start of race 1.

Out on the race course we waited while 3 fleets started ahead of us and had wind in the low teens out of the North. It was pretty shifty and at the time of our start there was an almost 10 degree favor at the pin and Craig took advantage of that port tacking our fleet at the pin. Craig played the shifts well and stayed well enough ahead at the pin with me behind and Trip just behind me. On the 2nd upwind to the finish I was able to pick some shifts and catch up to Craig, but once we got out to the lay line there weren’t any passing lanes and I had to settle for finishing just behind him.

Looking back on the fleet as we come downwind in race 2.

For the second race, since there were 5 of us and 3 Windmills we were all started together. By now the wind had dropped a bit and was very shifty with some big holes. We watched the Melges 15s start ahead of us and some boats caught puffs and took off while others missed it entirely and bobbed around near the start. Some of the boats were quickly 1/3 of the leg ahead before even covering 1/2 of the leg. I watched where the wind was and where it was coming from at our start and i was able to string together some puffs to get launched. The Windmills all went way left while the ILCA fleet was all over. By the top mark I was 1/3 of a leg ahead and I just sailed conservatively – covering the fleet and giving up some ground, but also keeping myself between everyone else and the finish the rest of the way around. Trip finished behind me with Craig behind him.

The 3rd race still had some pretty big shifts, but without the massive holes of the prior race. Craig and I split a bit and he caught some better shifts and led by 10 boat lengths or so at the weather mark. I also had some Windmill rounding traffic to contend with. Downwind we got a 70 degree shift from the right turning it into a reach for just a couple of minutes. It got to me first and by the time Craig got it I was well ahead and then just played a loose cover on the upwind to finish 1st. Craig was second with Bill 3rd.

At the start of the 4th race Craig and I both went for the boat and Craig got between me and the boat and ended up fouling me and having to do turns. The wind had picked back up to where were comfortably hiking with some de-powering at times. I focused on picking shifts and was able to extend my lead and then did another loose cover on the fleet to hold my position. Craig finished 2nd followed by Trip. This race was also fun to see with the Windmills. They seemed to generally point higher and sail faster upwind. In the prior two races in lighter air they started with us and finished well ahead of us. In this race they started with us and I finished just a boat length behind their leader.

Jon, Jess, Tim, Karly

In the evening after racing Jess and I came to the part by boat and got to have dinner and see friends and hang out.

Floating around on Sunday without any wind.

Sunday’s forecast was for light air and it delivered. We ghosted out to the course on time hoping for it to fill and floated around for an hour and a half. By around 11 nothing had filled and the clouds burned off and it started to get hot. The fleet started making their way to shore and a short time later the RC agreed and abandoned for the day. Sad we didn’t get another day of racing and the wind eventually did fill, but by then we were on to awards.

Trip, Jon and Craig at the awards. Photo by Paul Almany.

Thanks to Mark and team running the event and Jim R and his team for running races on our course.


The third and final day of the ILCA Nationals at Brant Beach Yacht Club saw enough wind to sail us to the course only to postpone us once we got there. An hour later the sea breeze would fill in with 7-8 out of the south to enable us to go racing.

In the first race I won the boat and went hard right. As I was coming across for a while it looked like I was going to cross the entire fleet. While I was spectating I missed a shift and found myself getting passed on both sides and rounded mid-fleet. I hung around there for the rest of the race and finished mid 20’s.

By the second race we were sailing in about 10 knots in the same sea breeze direction. I had a good start again near the boat, but didn’t have the speed or the lead I did in the last one. I ended up towards the bottom of the fleet and struggled at times to keep the boat moving or change gears smoothly. At the bottom of the course we were often near the 4.7s and their parent boats and coach boats created a lot of wakes following them around which all seemed to converge on us as we sailed to the finish.

By the 3rd race the sea breeze was blowing in the mid teens. Enough to be depowering, but not enough to be overpowered with everything depowered. This time I started at the pin, I didn’t stay there long as most of the fleet went right and I went with them. I had reasonable speed upwind and rounded mid fleet. I continued to struggle on the reaches. Another finish in the high 20s and another day with a ton of sea weed.

I finished 32nd overall with all of my finishes between 23 and 34. It was good to be back in the boat at a big event, and also shows what happens when I race without a lot of practice beforehand.