No Quarter Laser

2020 July 4th FBYC Long Distance Race

This year Jess and I sailed lasers in the FBYC One Design Division Long Distance Race. All of the smaller boats <24′ waterline sail using the Portsmouth handicap system in a race that covers a total of 7-8 miles in the Piankatank River.

We had a variety of boats in the fleet from Lasers, Radials, Flying Scots, a Weta and a few J70’s. The 70s would be fast and the off-angle sailing under asymmetrical spinnakers would really give them a chance to pull away.

The start set the boats off on port tack eastward down the river. The rest of the fleet all came barging in on port tack at the pin and I did a starboard dip line start and forced all of them to give me room and Nostalgia had to circle around and restart. The J70 Billy Buff started just behind me and I was able to pinch them off and slow them down before they eventually went under and around me.

The wind held at a steady 9-11 knots out of the north east. The course took us towards Gywnn’s island, around #8 and then towards the entrance to Jackson creek. It then doubled back and then went ~3 miles west up the river and then back to Godfrey Bay.

I kept up best I could with the Flying Scots and stayed ahead of the Weta while the J/70’s sailed pretty far into the distance.

Following racing as we were packing up the boat the scorer walked by and let me know that after the handicaps were computed, I tied for 3rd with Billy Buff and we both beat Nostalgia by 2 seconds. Just goes to show that starting on starboard made a difference between 3rd and 5th.

RESULTS

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2019 Crab Claw Regatta: Sunday

Day 2 of the Crab Claw Regatta and Laser District 11 Championship at Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis and we were greeted light winds and a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind. It came soon enough and along with the clearer skies we ended up with 12-14 knots of wind out of the North. We were out in the north sailing area looking upwind at the bridge.

In 3 races I had pretty good starts usually winning the boat or close to it and crossed most of the fleet on the first upwind. I didn’t quite have the upwind speed as some of the fast guys, but held my own when I remembered to round the offset and didn’t hit any marks. By the 3rd race I started to get the boat dialed in a little better and had better speed and didn’t make any mistakes leading to my weekend best of a 4th. Ended up 15th overall and it was great to sail with some competition to tune up before the FBYC Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters in October. Luke, Eric, Mike, Scott and Dave all sailed great this weekend and were fast all the way around the course. Thanks to Scott, Dorian and the fleet for hosting!

One other bit of news coming out of the weekend – Scott Williamson is going to take over as the District 11 Secretary. It’s a post I’ve held since the end of 2006. The Laser fleets in the mid-Atlantic remain a great group of sailors and it’s been fun to see the ups and downs of the fleets and to help play a part in connecting sailor and getting them out sailing. Thanks for taking this on Scott and I look forward to continuing to see the sailors I’ve met throughout the district for many years to come.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2019 Crab Claw Regatta: Saturday

Severn Sailing Association hosted the Crab Claw Regatta and 2019 Laser District 11 Championship Regatta.  It just so happened that East Carolina’s football team was playing at Navy this afternoon so I figured out how to do both.

The skies were overcast with temperatures in the high 70’s and the wind out of the North at 11-13.  I sailed the first two races in some lumpy seas making it critical to keep the boat flat to go fast upwind.  There were some shifts to hit as well.  Downwind it took a while to figure out how to catch the waves – by the 4th time I went downwind finally started to figure it out just before I headed in.

The fleet did 2 more races while I headed in to attend the ECU vs Navy football game.

I’m in 20th after day one and hope to improve once I can drop 1 of my DNS’s.

PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Sunday

Sunday, the final day at the Laser North American Championship greeted us with a light west wind. We weren’t sure it was going to hold, but it was enough to race in and so we went out and did. With the lighter winds I had better starts, was able to focus on my boat speed and actually play tactics upwind.  I was a little out of phase and a little deeper than I wanted on the first leg, but made up some spots on the succeeding legs and finished 23rd.

In the 2nd race of the day and what would be our final race of the regatta – we had a little less consistent wind across the course.  I thought I had a good start, but quickly got rolled and had to tack out.  As I made my way to the right side I caught some great pressure and tacked on a few shifts to find myself lined up with the leaders about halfway up the beat on the right side.  Alas – I kept going right and they went left and while I did great over the people on the right, it was the left that won out. I made a couple moves on the reach and downwind, but it got pretty light on the downwind.  Upwind I started as far left as I could in the light air figuring the tide might help me get there if it really goes out.  This was great as the wind filed from the left and I passed a few boats, but made the mistake of going to the right for the top 1/3 of the course and left some more spots on the table.  Downwind and on the reach I was able to stay ahead of a pack of 5-6 boats and finished 19th.

After 11 races – this was a fantastic event.  Thanks to Eric and his family for the place to stay. The volunteers at BBYC did a great job running races, feeding us and keeping everything organized. I’ll definitely be back for more BBYC regattas.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Saturday

On Saturday at the Laser North American Championship temperatures had soared and neared 100 degrees with high humidity. There was no wind when it was time to leave and so we were postponed ashore for an hour and a half. Even when we did get out there wasn’t enough wind to sail and we were postponed on the water for another  45 minutes.

And then the wind came. At first it was about 8 knots when we started the first race.  I had a beautiful start and punched out for a while until the fast guys caught up and overtook me. As I tried to keep clear lanes of wind I got out of phase and ended up on the wrong side of the course on the right. Boats on the left got more pressure and a lefty to the mark.  On the next few legs I did ok and was probably deep 20’s, but at the final jibe mark I got pinwheeled with some 4.7s and a bunch of Lasers and lost a couple spots for a 35th.

By the 2nd race the wind had picked up to 13-15. I had a terrible start, tried to tack out, mis-judged the dip/cross and tapped the back corner of a starboard tacker and had to do turns putting me well behind the fleet upwind. I was able to pick off a few boats on each leg and pulled myself up to a 28th.

By the 3rd race it was even windier with gusts into the upper teens – this was a range where I was just hanging on to make the boat go and not really able to work the boat or be too strategic. I was clearly a bit tired on the downwinds and I got the tipsies and flipped a few times trailing almost the entire rest of the fleet. I was happy to finish rather than take a DNS, but it was some tough slogging.

After racing I did a nice run on the beach then got take out chicken wings and had dinner with some sailors.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | FINAL RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Friday

Day 2 of the Laser North American Championship at Brant Beach Yacht Club started with a postponement ashore while we waited for the wind to fill in and the fog to lift.  By 11:30 the fog and the postponement had lifted and we were headed out to the racecourse with the Radial fleet doing the first start to catch up and get their 3rd race in.

In the first race with the wind at 8-10 I won the boat, albeit I was half length late to the line. I stayed in clear air up the beat and even played some shifts finding myself in the top 20 at the top mark. The rest of the way around the course I ceded some boats and finished 23rd.

The second race saw the wind up another knot or two – now at a range that required some depowering. I had a good start in the middle of the line and held my lane for a while, but eventually got squeezed off and sucked out the back.  I never really felt like I got the boat going upwind and was probably bottom 5 around the top mark. I was able to claw back a few boats downwind and reaching finishing 35th.

In the 3rd race I started midway down the line, but was a little late so I immediately tacked out to the right to find clear air.  I played the shifts much more so than I had in previous races and was a little more comfortable with the boat moving through the waves and little higher winds.  At the top mark I found myself mid-fleet and I was able to actually work the boat through the waves to catch up on boats ahead of me downwind and reaching and rode that to a 21st place finished pulling me up to 28th overall before a drop was factored in.

One fun observation today was how much better the masters sailors were on the reach. There’s a technique to it that I just don’t think the younger sailors have seen since it’s not often we sail on courses with reaching legs.

Post-sailing I did another 4-mile run, got dinner with sailors at the club and caught up with some of the junior parents from FBYC.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 2 RESULTS

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2019 Laser North American Championship: Thursday

Today was the first day of the Laser North American Championship at Branch Beach Yacht Club on Long Beach Island in New Jersey.  BBYC has a great beach and facility and does a great job running big Laser regattas and I enjoy coming back.  I was hear last year for 2018 US Masters Nationals and I sailed the 2011 North American Championship here too.

There are 3 fleets here – about 18 boats in the smallest rig the 4.7, 80 in the mid-size Radial rig and I’m in the 40-boat Standard Rig fleet.  This is a VERY competitive fleet. Only 15 of the sailors are ‘masters’ – over 35- years old and many of them are in high school and are here with coaches and spend the summer going to various regattas and training. There are quite a few sailors from Canada and even a few that made the trip from Ecuador, Barbados, Puerto Rico and a few others.

After checking in this morning and getting my sail inspected and the usual skippers meeting they took us out to the middle of the bay – an easy 30-min reach from the club in the ~12 knots of breeze out of the south under mostly sunny skies with just some small waves. After some practice and a 20-minute postponement we were ready for the first race.

The first race was a clean start for the fleet – I was near the boat and had a fantastic start right on the line and in clear air. My boat speed up the first leg wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped for.  The wind at 12-14 with some higher gusts meant hiking most of the time.  On the reach and runs I was able to hold my own.  Near the end on the run I flipped and lost a few boats although I was able to pick a couple back up on the reach as I started to improve my speed there.

I had forgotten about the seaweed here – last year it was mostly a non-issue and today I had to remember my weed clearing techniques.

For the second race the wind picked up another couple knots out of the same direction and we now had consistent white caps.  I had another fantastic start near the boat and like the last race I was right under Leo – the 2nd place boat – who had no trouble driving over me (pictured above).  I don’t think I improved my speed upwind, but I was able to sail a little more consistently and not slow down for adjustments.

On the reaches I started to get the boat moving relative to the folks around me and I was consistently able to pick off a few boats reaching. I helped that we were finishing with the 4.7s and when they reached, they sailed high and some of the Standards went with them, and I was able to sail the rhumb line keeping the boat planing and making up more distance. This ended up as my best race – with about a dozen boats behind me.  Yes – it’s the kind of race where I’m counting how many boats are behind me – ie 12 boats behind means I finished mid to high 20’s.

In the 3rd race we had another knot of wind – I had a terrible start at the boat where I got trapped behind it in irons while the fleet sailed away and so I started well behind everyone. I still managed to not be last at the windward mark and did pick off a few more boats.  Another downwind capsize gave away some spots, but at least I was getting more comfortable in the higher winds.

As soon as we crossed the finish line there were storms to the North West of us and they sent us in for the day.

All in all it wasn’t a terrible day of sailing – I finished about how I expected given how little Laser sailing I had done this year and the fact that I weigh 8-10 pounds less than I did a year ago when I sailed here. I think that lead to the capsizes – where I’m used to throwing my weight over to keep the boat flat, only I don’t have as much to throw and underestimated the effort needed to avoid a capsize.

After sailing I beached the boat and quickly got into my running clothes to do a 4-mile run around the neighborhood before the storm came through. Eventually the storm rolled through just as we were heading over to the club for dinner.  It was great catching up with some friends and sailors I haven’t seen for a few year and sharing stories of regattas past.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | DAY 1 RESULTS

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2019 Race City 400 Regatta

Lake Norman Yacht Club held their spring regatta and I was one of a dozen Lasers among the various other fleets sailing. This was a good shake down trip with the new VW Atlas cartopping set up and I got to visit and stay with college friends and check out a few spots in Charlotte.

On day one we sailed out to the course in nice wind, it shifted around a couple times and a race was started. The RC lost a minute in the starting sequence, but started anyway. The race would later be thrown out which was unfortunate because I had a good race and climbed my way up to first by the end. The wind would die by the end of that race and shift around for about an hour before finally settling in for another race.  In the second race of the day the wind built a bit.  I was in second place starting the last downwind leg and got passed downwind by two boats.  They both ended up colliding just before the finish resulting in a protest that I wound up participating in as a witness. The wind built a little more for the next two races before dying again in the last race of the day.

Being my first time out for the year I didn’t quite have super speed upwind.  I also struggled a bit to stay in the grove and shift gears while keeping my head out of the boat.  I suspect practicing with the old sail the prior weekend didn’t help me much and it also showed me I just needed more time in the boat.  My starts were generally pretty good and my downwind legs were typical for me.

Saturday, after the protest hearing was wrapped up I met Courtney and Preston at the US Whitewater Center just outside of Charlotte where the Tuck festival was going on.  The center has two man-made white water courses and a whole bunch of other trails and outdoor activities. For the festival there were bands play, vendors and all kinds of people there – thousands checking it all out.  We had a few beers and checked everything out before getting dinner out in Charlotte.

Sunday the wind started out a bit lighter, we sailed a race in light air where it died at the end, then one more race in brutally light air.  I sailed in while the fleet was postponed only to have them join me a half hour later. In the end we had 6 races that counted and I finished 6th overall.  It was great hanging out with Preston and Courtney and getting to meet a few more Laser sailors from NC. Lake Norman is always a great venue to sail at and I look forward to a lot more sailing this season.

PICTURES | RESULTS

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2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship: Sunday

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.

FINAL RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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2018 Laser Masters Atlantic Coast Championship: Saturday

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.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for lighter wind.

DAY 1 RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

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