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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 2 at the ILCA US Nationals at Brant beach and we postponed ashore for an hour and a half until the wind started to come in. Out on the course we had lightish air – 6 or 7 knots. The RC tried to get a couple starts, but ultimately needed to reset the course again for where the wind settled in. Some rain-looking clouds came over just before the start, but didn’t drop anything. There were storms in the region but far enough away not to impact our racing.
First race didn’t have a good start and was quickly shot out the back. Sailed in dirty air upwind most of the leg and had about a dozen boats still behind me. Downwind I tried not to lose too many spots and picked up a couple spots on the 2nd upwind. On the reach to the bottom mark before the finish I was leeward boat and was fouled by a boat to weather and his mainsheet ended up taking my weather vane off and I had to sail the rest of the day with out it. I protested the boat on the water and after we got in. I ended up winning the protest and the other boat was thrown out of that race.
Second start went even worse than the first, I hit some waves just as I was about to go for the start and my vang fell out. I fixed it in a few seconds, but by then I was too late to be in the front row and ended up tacking behind everyone and got very far right in mostly clear air. I rounded mid fleet and did my usual lose boats on the downwind and pick up a few upwind and still managed to lose a few on the reach and finished mid-30s.
The wind continued to pick up and the 3rd race was in closer to 15-17 knots of breeze. I had an OK start and rounded the first mark just below mid-fleet. The wind eased as the race went on. I went right on the second upwind and picked up a few spots for another finish in the low 30’s.
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.
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.