The first day of the Cheseapeake Bay Laser Masters was a beautiful day – just a little on the cool side with with the wind out of the North. The best sailing area for the large fleet was across the river in Godfrey Bay and it was definitely blowing with winds in the upper teens.
For the first race I had a great start at the boat, held my lane upwind and quickly found myself in clear air ahead of the fleet. I worked my way to the right side of the course and worked a couple shifts to the top mark. As I got to the mark Scott Williamson was just ahead of me. Downwind I held my own and on the 2nd upwind I picked some shifts and found myself leading Scott and James Jacob who were just a little behind. Downwind we held our positions and on the final upwind I made a couple small mistakes allowing them to catch up and ultimately pass me by just a half boat length at the finish leaving me in 3rd. What a way to start the regatta – in 40+ boats to be in a position to lead it and in wind I’m not usually as competitive in was great.
In the 2nd race to my surprise – went much the same way. I was 2nd at the top mark behind James after playing more of the middle-left of the course. Downwind Scott got around me and we stayed that way to finish the 2nd race in the same order – James, Scott me.
By the 3rd race the wind hadn’t let up much – still steady 15+. I was starting to get a little tired and cold. I wouldn’t realize it until later that I had forgotten to take any of my food with me. In this race I was 15th at the first top mark. I still had good speed all the way around the course and was able to climb my way back to 9th.
For the 4th race I had a pretty terrible start having to tack out and duck some boats. I wasn’t used to doing this from the past 3 races – and I didn’t like it. I spent some time mid-fleet and still had good speed. I liked the left side of the course going downwind and this was one of the days of racing where I consistently was passing more boats downwind than were passing me. The waves were just a little off angle to the wind and especially at the bottom of the course were just big enough to get some good surfing on. I was able to climb up to 11.
By the middle of the afternoon the wind was supposed to start easing – yet it never did making for a long and hard day of sailing for the fleet. By the 5th race the fleet had dwindled to about 30 boats still racing. In this one I had another good start, played the shifts and hung in around the top 10 boats. I was able to pass some boats and finish 10.
What a great fleet we have! There’s a lot of parity in the fleet and any of the top 15 boats are chasing for the lead. But Scott and James are both making a run at the title after today’s racing.
Following racing we had some outdoor socially distant happy hour followed by dinner in the open porch with the tables all spread out. We weren’t able to seat everyone together, but we made it work and everyone was great about staying apart and wearing masks.
Ultimately it was an early night and I spent some time fixing some of the scores in the new scoring system and getting to bed.