FBYC’s Cut Channel race is unique in that the sailors get to decide which route to take around a pre-defined course choosing either ot go clockwise or counter-clockwise. The course goes out of the Piankatank across the bay to the cut channel, up or down it depending on the direction and then finishing back in the mouth of the Piankatank. With a southerly wind we though we could hold the spinnaker on two of the 3 main legs and that would make up for the time on the remaining short leg going upwind.

Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.
Battle Rhythm just after the start with Trilogy just to weather of us.

We had a good start just to leeward of Excitation, Afterthought and Corryvreckan. Excitation chose the same clockwise route that we did while Afterthought, Corryvreckan and Chilcoot took the counter clockwise route. Once clear of the line we all hoisted spinnakers. Unfortunate, we put 5′ tear in the foot of ours which would need to be repaired on a subsequent leg.

The trip across the bay was uneventful and we settled in under spinnaker. We saw winds into the upper teens at times and it came back to the mid-teens closer to the other side. As we approached the turning mark to go upwind we made sure to take the chute down on the opposite side so we could put it back up more easily on a later leg.

 April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.
April, Jon and Barb sailing under spinnaker.

While on the upwind Todd and Barb worked down below on repairing the spinnaker while everyone else was on the rail going upwind. We started with a reef in and were making good speed upwind. The wind eased and we eventually shook the reef. I steered for the last 2/3 of the 6.8nm upwind leg. While we were also going upwind we passed the boats going downwind who were doing the counterclockwise course. It was pretty clear by then and started to sink in that there was no way we were going to make up the time on the remaining leg. Excitation was near us and wound up crossing tacks with them and they later rounded ahead of us.

After we rounded the southern mark we headed back to the mouth of the Piankatank under spinnaker. We were going good until we saw something suspicious with the main halyard and wanted to check on it so we proceeded to take the spinnaker and the main down to do so. We were able to re-hoist both and continued on finishing some 20 minutes after the leaders.

All in all was a fun day and learned some things about this course and the boat we’ll bring back for next time.

PICTURES | RESULTS

Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.
Afterthought near Mr. Roberts just before the start.

After threats of rain all week for this evening and even an afternoon shower a few hours before race time we ended up with beautiful weather and windy conditions for FBYC’s 2022 Moonlight Race. I was sailing with Mike S, Hunter, Clark and Mike T aboard his J105 Moo Hoos. The course would send us out into the bay, north the the mouth of the Rappahannock and then back into the Piankatank near Stove Point. There would be 2 starts with us as one of the 6 boats in the PHRF fleet and 3 in the cruising fleet.

Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.
Just after the start with Mad Hatter to weather at the boat end of the line.

We had arguably the best start of the fleet with a couple boats boxed out at the boat, we hit the line right on time a boat length down from the boat end. Unfortunately, Afterthought, a J109 able to point much higher then our shoal draft 105, was below us and forced us to tack away and in doing so we had to quickly duck Mad Hatter. That didn’t end up being too bad of a move as we got a nice lift and 1/2 mile later when we converged on the weather mark we were just ahead of Mad Hatter and just behind Afterthought.

Afterthought changing head sails.
Afterthought changing head sails as we sailed by out of the Piankatank.

From there it was another mostly upwind starboard tack as we headed out of the Piankatank and into the bay. Afterthought was overpowered and went for a headsail change while we were able to slip by them. When we got to the next mark we could see the current was ripping up the bay so we elected to tack and go south to stay out of the current before heading east to the next mark. While that was generally a good move, we took it too far and vastly over stood allowing several boats to ‘cut the corner’ so to speak and round ahead of us. All of this upwind sailing was in winds in the upper teens. We had a class jib up and a full main and worked to feather the main and steer between the waves while keeping the boat flat. Sitting on the rail we got drenched a couple times when we hit some of the larger waves.

Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us.
Sailing out of the Piankatank with Afterthought behind us (for now).

By the time we hit the far mark the sunlight that remained was gone and it would be a reach for several miles up into the mouth of the Rappahannock. We could see ahead that none of the boats were flying a spinnaker – we thought pretty hard about it but the wind was just a little too far forward to flying it in the dark. We still made quite a bit of ground up and could see both Red Sky and Mad Hatter on the next upwind leg and were just about crossing tacks with them. By the time we passed Stingray Point Light and rounded the last mark back into the Piankatank we were just ahead of Red Sky and just behind Mad Hatter. We were able roll Mad Hatter and by the finish we were able to get our time on Afterthought, but not on most of the rest of the fleet.

It was a fun race followed by ice cream and rum. Thanks Mike for having me along and to Tom R, Blackwell, Randy and Brad for being our race committee.

EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS | PICTURES

Sunday was the distance race day for Fishing Bay Yacht Clubs Offshore Spring Invitational. We started in the mouth of the Piankatank just east of Stove Point with light winds 6-8 knots. We would have a downwind start with all of the fleets starting at the same time. We were a little late to the start, but this was a conservative approach to allow us to pick our spot and stay clear of the other boats.

Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.
Excitation sailing downwind on the first leg behind Corryvreckan and Nanuq.

Once we had our spinnaker up and were clear of other boats we made our way east into the bay. We thought we were going to a mark further out into the bay, but as we passed another mark along the way boats ahead started rounding it. We quickly realized our error in what we thought the course was and adjusted our course to follow the other boats without really loosing any distance. I mostly trimmed spinnaker and eventually started training Ryan to stand in for me. Late in the leg I drove while Mayo worked on navigating. We had to sail a really tight angle with the spinnaker up while the asymmetrical boats were barreling down on us from behind with pressure. We just didn’t want to have to drop to a head sail only to need the spinnaker right back up for the next leg.

Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.
Jon driving and Ryan trimming spinnaker as we approach the 2nd mark.

As we reached the 2nd mark, we had a well executed gybe around it and headed north dead downwind to get to the 3rd mark. Many other boats mostly with asymmetrical spinnakers tried to play the angles and we just we went more downwind on the rhumb line for just under 2 miles. We ended up sailing inside of Nanuq and had a nice lead coming into the mark. When we got there we didn’t want to do an extra gybe so we executed a windward takedown which nobody on this boat had ever done before aside from me and Chris who had done it on other boats. We did it early in case it went badly and it went so well we were under powered sailing wing on wing for the final minute into the mark.

Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.
Heading upwind to the finish with the #1 still up.

By the time we rounded the northern most mark the wind had gone down to 7-8 knots and we elected to go to the light #1. As we sailed upwind back to the finish we would find ourselves significantly overpowered with this sail up. About 2/3 of the way to the finish the soft shackle holding the jib sheet to the sail let go, so we came to a stop and quickly fixed that and got going again. Now with the wind in the upper teens and hitting 20 we really wanted to get a smaller sail up so we tried to do a sail change on a tack, but had problems using the second headsail track and ended up having to do a bare-headed sail change. These two maneuvers allowed Nanuq to sail right by us and we ended up finishing 2nd a little over 2 minutes behind them on corrected time.

All in all it was a great weekend of sailing. We sailed well, we got better at the roles we had, we tried some new moves and didn’t break anything that costs $$. This was a great tune up for Southern Bay Race Week coming up in two weeks.

RESULTS | PICTURES

Saturday was the first day of a two day Spring Invitational for Offshore boats at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. The format was to do buoy racing on Saturday and have a government mark distance race on Sunday. The weather was light but otherwise perfect for an early season day of racing aboard Excitation – Mayo’s Farr/Dickerson 37.

Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts.
Race start aboard Excitation near Mr. Roberts

1st race good start at the boat. Nanuq was over early and had to go back. We did a hitch to the right to put some space between the other boats and continued up the middle of the course. We were first around the mark, had a good set and stayed ahead of the fleet downwind. We had another good upwind and held off Nanuq and Corryvreckan (who both owed us time) to win the race on the course and on corrected time. I was the floater on board helping with navigation/tactics and trimming the spinnaker.

Spinnaker trimming
Spinnaker trimming

In the second race the wind built a little bit, but still within the range of the light #1 we were using. We were a little late at the start and as a result had to do a few more tacks after the start to either clear our air or avoid starboard tackers. At the top mark we rounded 4th behind Nanuq, Corryvreckan and Sting. Despite a problem with the lazy spinnaker sheet, we still had a pretty good set. Downwind we made up some ground on Nanuq and sailed deep and passed Corryvreckan and Sting. Upwind we favored the right side of the course out of the current and switched down to the ‘heavy’ #1 as the wind continued to build – now in the 8-10 knot range. We held our position and worked on narrowing the gap with Nanuq – but at the finish we wouldn’t be able to make up our time and finished 2nd.

Sailing downwind on Excitation.
Sailing downwind on Excitation.

By the 3rd race the wind picked up and we were seeing winds in the mid-teens. We made the decision to switch to the #3 and just as we went to raise it as the starting sequence was initiated – the sail partial came out of the track while it was being hoisted. It came out in such a way that we were either going to damage it, or we would have to disassemble part of the track to get it back. Given those choices and the fact that we were in the starting sequence – there was no way we were going to disassemble it without damaging it and make the start and so we decided to retire. Disappointing not to sail the 3rd race as we were in contention to win the day with a good result. We’ll be back for the distance race tomorrow.

RESULTS | PICTURES

This week I had planned on sailing on Excitation, but FBYC was in need of a PRO for the first Spring Series race day and it was a chance for me to jump in and volunteer. I’m super appreciative of all of the people who joined us, particularly those last minute.

PHRF-BC fleet start with Mad Hatter foreground.
PHRF-BC fleet start with Mad Hatter foreground.

We had 10 boats total and took the 2 fleets just south of the Stingray Point light to race into a SE breeze at 10-14 knots. After a short postponement to lengthen the line we got both fleets started on a 1.25nm course. By midway into the race the wind would ease a bit to 8-12 where it would stay for the rest of the day. Thankfully the wind didn’t change direction and enabled us to leave the course set or both races making it easy on us.

The start of the PHRF-A fleet aboard Mr. Roberts. Donna, Vera, Jon pictured.
The start of the PHRF-A fleet aboard Mr. Roberts. Donna, Vera, Jon pictured.

Cheeky Monkey had a fast sail in the first race. The Nanuq team was sailing like a well-oiled machine nailing their maneuvers on this early season race day. Excitation would put in a solid effort and Mad Hatter had a good day to win the PHRF-BC fleet.

Finish line with Vera, Jon, Carol, Cathy and Rick as Corryvreckan finishes.
Finish line with Vera, Jon, Carol, Cathy and Rick as Corryvreckan finishes.

A couple things I learned or were reinforced as a PRO – it was really critical to have a conversation with the two fleet leaders before we went out so we could talk about the length of course, sailing area, number of races and timing of the races. We also discussed some options should expected changes happen. This made it easy on us so we knew what to expect and was great for the racers as they got exactly what they wanted and knew why we did what we did.

Thanks again to Cathy, Donna, Vera, Carol, Rick, John K, Joe R and Wade for all of their help on RC making it a great day for the racers.

JON’S PICTURES | CAROL’S PICTURES | EVENT WEBSITE | RESULTS

Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.
Mr. Roberts in her new slip on Jackson Creek.

Fishing Bay Yacht Club had a gorgeous day in April to open the season. After a flag raising 7 boats in 3 classes headed out for 10nm race out into the bay and back to shake out the cobwebs and get the season started. Sailing out on Mad Hatter we had 7-10 knots of wind out of the ESE. All of the boats were starting at the same time and even though Nanuq and Sting were technically in the PHRF-A class and we were in the PHRF-B/C class – we saw them as the boats to beat on corrected time.

We got into sequence and the race committee realized there was a mistake in the posted course so we postponed for a moment while they fixed it and went into sequence again. At the start we along with Nanuq, and Schiehallion were over early and all had to go back. This gave Sting a bit of a head start. The fleet could largely lay the first mark and the leg to the second mark was more upwind. We went right and inshore with Sting while Nanuq went left and out in to the bay. When we all came back together Sting was ahead and Nanuq just behind. By the time we got out into the bay the wind was much lighter and were were going just 3-4 knots. At that mark we turned and put up a chute and had a pretty straight shot past the mark we started with and then onto the finish. We wouldn’t have to gibe. Nanuq with the longer waterline and an asymmetrical sail was able to get ahead of us, but wouldn’t make up her time on correction. Wendas who was well behind us on the course would end up correcting over us by around a minute to win the B/C fleet.

I was pit and floater for the day, helping with tactics, monitoring the radio, trimming the guy and moving around to keep weight in the right spot. I also brought a couple cameras with me and got some footage aboard.

EVENT WEBSITE | PICTURES | RESULTS | VIDEO

Saturday was FBYC’s Closing Day Regatta – this is usually the traditional end of the season weekend with big boats sailing a pursuit race on Saturday followed by oysters. Then we sail ILCA on Sunday in our final race of the day. With a low pressure off the coast, there is forecast wind all weekend. We ultimately canceled the ILCA regatta for Sunday though it wasn’t enough to cancel the offshore race.

Looking upwind as we sail to the finish

I was sailing with Mike Toms on his J105 Purple Wahoos. Aboard with us were a number of Mike’s friends from college and one other sailor we picked up on the dock. Being a pursuit race and being the 2nd fasted boat by rating, we had a late starting time and didn’t leave the dock until after the rest of the fleet. The race had already been postponed 30 minutes due to wanting to set a new course that would keep us a little more protected in the Piankatank. In the open water of the bay the wind was gusting over 30. Where we ended up sailing we had some gusts into the 20’s but was mostly in the mid to high teens for most of the race. The wind was out of the NNE.

We hit our starting time on a broad reach as we sailed south and then west up the Piankatank. We slowly caught up to boats ahead like GOIN and Morningtide. As we got to the turn around spot up the river the wind was predictably lighter and this is where we encountered most of the rest of the fleet. We eventually got around Mad Hatter and Sting.

The fleet behind us in the Piankatank

As we approached Fishing Bay we slowed a bit to put a reef into the main sail knowing this was the last opportunity we’d have to do this before sailing into more wind and the last leg was going to be relatively upwind. I had done main for most of the race and swapped with Mike and drove the bit of the race after needing a break from all of the sheet adjustments on the main to keep the right heel and speed.

On the final beat we were in 4th with Shenanigan just ahead of us and Corryvrekan and Sting just behind us. We were slowly able to pick off Shenanigan, but Corryvreckan came from behind to finish ahead of us leaving us in 4th overall.

Red dotted line showing the track we took.
Red dotted line showing the track we took.

Given the wind and conditions it was great being on the water and we made the most of what we had. It was a fun way to end the season followed by an Oyster Roast at the club.

PICTURES | RESULTS

Saturday was FBYC’s Cut Channel Race. I would have liked to sail but I needed some time in the ILCA ahead of nationals next weekend. I spent about 2 hours sailing in 15-20 knots with some 3 foot waves in places and a light drizzle of rain.

I also got a few photos of the start of the Cut Channel Race:

At the start only two boats were in position to hit the line on port headed for the next mark of the course. Many boats started on starboard, barely laying the starting line and way down at the boat end and were 10+ boat lengths behind immediately. The weather eventually cleared and they had a nice sail though I was long done and ashore by the time the fleet finished.

PICTURES | RESULTS

Day one of the Stingray Point Regatta was a breezy one. This was my first time taking sailing pictures with a new-to-me Nikon D300s and it’s great to have a camera again to take pictures with. We watched the finish of the first race and the start of the 2nd race and got some great shots.

PICTURES