Ready to Launch at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club

For the first day of the ILCA Nationals I launched from Norfolk Yacht and Country Club and we sailed out into the James River off Craney Island. This took close to an hour to sail to and is an area I’ve never sailed in when sailing out of NYCC or ODU.

We were sailing the ILCA trapezoid course with the split ILCA 6 (Radial) fleets sailing the outer course and the ILCA 7 (Standard) sailing the inner course. The current on the course would end up being a really big factor. At the beginning of the day the current was ebbing and with the wind out of the west – the wind lined up with the current so both were coming straight down the course. This helped keep us from being over early at the start, but also made it very tough to pick the layline right and not hit the mark.

Sailing in current is hard. Sailing in current when the wind is shifty is even harder. Just when I’d get the feel figured out and feel like the boat is starting to move, the wind would shift and I’d have to re-acclimate to the new wind direction.

First race had a terrible start, was really deep at the top mark. Went right downwind and caught a shift/pressure early and rode that around 8 or so boats that had gone more left. On the upwind I banged the same side (now left) and went around another 8 or so boats and on the final downwind I stuck to that same side and passed a few more boats. Each time catching the shifts just right and found myself finishing 10th.

postponed
Postponed off and on

We then spent over 2 hours waiting for the RC to set and reset the course to changing winds and for the Radial fleet to get a start. Eventually they got one only to have a 40-degree shift right at the start and about the time they were approaching the weather mark, the race abandoned only to have to return to start again.

By the time racing was started the current had switched directions and the chop picked up. I had two less exciting races mostly poking around mid fleet. We wouldn’t get to shore until after 6pm after spending nearly 9 hours on the water. I de-rigged and left to find dinner and cheap replacement watch for the one that had broken since last weekend.

No Quarter tucked in for the night.

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Old Dominion University and Norfolk Yacht and Country Club are hosting the 2021 ILCA US National Championship this weekend. Today was my travel day to have a nice easy afternoon drive to Norfolk to check in.

There are a few interesting new high-tech touches to this regatta I hadn’t seen before:

  • QR Codes for safety checks in and out of the water
  • Zoom skippers meeting the night before racing starts
  • Sail inspection done by photo upload to online form

Following check-in I had some time to explore so I drove down to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has some trails and some beautiful unspoiled beaches. Unfortunately, most of it was closed so I was able to run most of in 20 minutes and then walked a bit on the one part of the beach that was open.

This evening was the skippers meeting and racing starts tomorrow.

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ILCA Dinghies rigged at NYCC
Rigging at NYCC

The forecast for Sunday of the ILCA District 11 Championship at Norfolk Yacht and Country Club called for a little better wind than we had yesterday. Being tied in points with 2nd place and a few points behind the leader with a few folks just a couple points behind me, I had to have a good day with top 3 finishes to stay on the podium.

A crowd at the race 1 finish
Crowd at race 1 finish

The pressure to finish well put only a little pressure on the first race to have a good start – only I started too well and was called over early and had to go back. Just as I cleared myself and turned to go back upwind the tiller extension popped out of the tiller and I had to stop and fix it. The vang also fell out of the boom and I was able to fix that once I was going upwind. So I started about 15-20 lengths behind everyone and just looked for a clear lane and tried to go fast. I caught some shifts and came in on port at the weather mark, ducked a few boats and rounded around 6-7. Downwind I stayed to the right and started working the boat in the waves and puffs, stayed away from the other boats that were in each others’ air and went around all of them. I was first to the leeward mark and I held onto that for the 2nd lap to win it. What an exciting way to start the day!

ILCA at the starting line
ILCA at the startging line

We had similar conditions for the next 3 races. I generally favored the left until the last race when the current turned and the right did a little better upwind. It was great having good boat speed so even when I wasn’t in the exact best spot to start, I was able to get clear air to be among the leaders upwind. Downwind I held my own. As the day went on I was really wiped out and out of energy. I fell back to 3rd and then 5th and then 8th in the subesequent race. I was doing all the right things to be a contender, just ran out of energy to make it happen.

Alex sailed well enough to maintain his lead. David hung in there and had some good downwind moves to get around some boats to save some points. Jake had a great day including a race win to take 3rd and I fell to 4th place.

NYCC did a great job putting on the regatta and running races. It was nice to sail on the same waters as ILCA Nationals next month and get more familiar with Norfolk and Iook forward to coming back next month.

FINAL RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

Norfolk Yacht and Country Club hosted the first day of the ILCA District 11 Championship. We planned to go on time and a few of us launched and by the time we got to the end of the dock the RC put up a postponement, so we came and hung out for about 2 hours before there was enough to race with.

Postponed ashore

Out on the race course we had 4-5 knots – not great – but enough to race in. I had a terrible start without any speed at the gun and got shot out the back pretty quick. I tacked out to the right, ducked a bunch of boats and found some clean air and went to work. I rounded the top in 5 and about halfway down the run the wind shut off and then turned completely around. I was to the right and figured it out as fast as anyone and at one point was ahead of everyone. Alex played the zephyrs better and shot ahead to win it. Jack and I split tacks and he played the shifts better and I finished 3rd.

Light air on the racecourse.

After the first race there was no wind whatsoever. We sat around and got swarmed by sand flies. 45 minutes later we were quite happy when the wind filled in not just so we could go sail, but to blow the flies away.

Waiting to start racing

Over the next 3 races the wind would fill for 20 minutes or so and then go very light for 5-10 minutes. This repeated throughout the races. I had good starts near the boat and generally sailed well with a few moments of poor decisions and being in the wrong spot on the course. By the 4th race the current was really ripping slightly from the right making the upwind tacks very challenging to keep boat speed going. I would finish 8-5-3 in those races putting me in 3rd overall.

Coming in at the finish of the last race

David Hartman sailed consistently and he too had a few moments he got on the wrong side of the course. The hero of the day was Rebecca – she was originally signed up for a Radial and switched to a full rig and probably weighs half of what some of the fleet weigh. She ran away with the last two races and is currently 2nd. After winning the first race, Alex sailed consistently and had all top 5 finishes to be leading the fleet.

DAY 1 RESULTS | PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE

16 years I’ve run the Chesapeake Bay Laser Masters Championship and this one – like many before – will be like none-other. We’ve had hurricanes, Nor’easters, power outages, exceptionally high tides just to name some of the challenges we’ve faced at this regatta and all have made it an interesting and well remembered event. This year it’s COVID and we’ve had to make some modifications to the off the water activities to social distance. We’re all thankful our hobby is singlehanded sailing which enables us to continue to participate while remaining socially distanced.

It was a cool, rainy and blustery day at the club as we prepared for 45 Laser Masters. Nobody arrived early or was looking to go a practice. A number of sailors did pitch their tents and set up a fire pit for the weekend. This front should start to clear this evening, leaving us with winds in the low teens for much of Saturday. Sunday is less certain. Regardless of what we get, it’s fun to be sailing and seeing sailors again even if from a distance.

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

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

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