2015 Fall Series #1

2015 Fall Series #1 was a great way to start the fall racing season. The early morning light rain was carried off with the wind and left us with mostly cloudy skies. Temperatures were in the mid 60s when we met at 10 AM for the skipper’s meeting and ultimately made it to the mid 70s while out racing. The water was still warm in the low 80s from the summer heat so it was comfortable to sail in shorts with a tshirt and a life jacket. We had a nice turnout of the classes with the Weta and a Hobie in the multihulls, 6 lightings (+ Bob as PRO), 2 Buccanners, and several Albacores.

It was great to see so many familiar faces after taking off from regular racing during the summer and I saw some new faces that I didn’t have a chance to meet at the post racing cookout.

Continue reading

Poquoson Challenge & Crab Kill July 18

Poquoson Challenge & Crab Kill July 18

The Poquoson Challenge is a one-day event sponsored by Fleet 518 and Yeungling and will be held on the beautiful Poquoson River just south of the York River on Saturday, July 18th. The Entrance fee is $10.00 and dinner is $5.00 / person.

This is an informal fun regatta that allows you to sail w/ one or as many as your boat will take. The first race is scheduled to start at one PM on Saturday afternoon with four or five short windward/ leeward races planned. Races will be governed by the the “Racing Rules of Sailing.” No protests, please (this is supposed to be fun). Public launching is available on the Poquoson with a tow available if needed.

Racing will be followed by a crab and beer feast. Hamburgers/hotdogs will be available. Yeungling will be the beer! The party will be held at 238 King’s Grant Dr. Yorktown, VA.

Sunday offers a wonderful opportunity to day sail to the Bay or visit historic Yorktown or the world class Mariner’s. Everyone that has attended has had a great time.

Continue reading

PRSA Spring Regatta Recap

I have to echo the well-deserved praise for everyone who contributed to making it such a successful PRSA Spring Regatta and a great Memorial Day Weekend. The post race BBQ on Saturday by Lee, Lisa-Marie, and Jim was fantastic. PRO Nabeel Alsalam and his RC crew did an exceptional job in getting races off for so many boats and classes especially with the light air on Saturday.

I’ve written some reflections from day 1, below, and Aaron has a post on the PRSA Website summarizing the regatta as well.  Keep reading for all of the details from a very fun Spring Regatta!

For Final Scores, follow this link and then click on “Newsroom & Results” at the top and then “Race Results” if the scores don’t display at first (thanks to Upper Course PRO Nabeel Alsalam for doing the scoring).

Continue reading

Spring Series #5: Light

Spring Series #5 ended up being a good day out on the water. It was warm with plenty of sun but there was enough wind to keep the boats moving. While the winds were mostly light averaging 5 out of the south / southwest it was steady unlike earlier weeks this year and the winds did build to close to 10 before dropping back to 5 but we did get some good racing in.

Continue reading

4th Annual Moonshine Regatta


It was a beautiful weekend to race the Lightning at the 4th Annual Moonshine Regatta hosted by Virginia Inland Sailing Association (VISA) at Smith Mountain Lake. Randy and Lauren Beauchamp, their families, and all of the folks at VISA worked hard to make this a regatta to remember and showed the hospitality that the area is known for. Four fleet 50 boat Lisa-Marie, Bob Gotthardt, Alex Thomson/ Will Phillippe, and Ron Buchanan made it to the regatta and Bruce Heida was sailing with the Kelly’s from SSA. Bianca and Karen were new crew who came for the regatta.


Fleet members Lisa-Marie and Jim Lane and Bob Gotthardt made it down early enough to sail and tune the boats on Friday. They made the local news that captured some great video that you can see here: http://www.wdbj7.com/news/local/racers-practice-for-moonshine-regatta/32312840

My boat left DC Friday midafternoon and other than some occasional rain showers it was a largely uneventful trip out 66 and then down 81. I always enjoy the drive in the spring to see the mountains changing color with the yellows of the forsythias, the fushia of the red bud, and dog woods blooming. We made it early enough to stop for ice cream at the Homestead Creamery in Wirtz, before having dinner at Moosie’s, and then to drop the boat off at VISA.

I woke up early Saturday morning I guess from the anticipation of sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast and had a chance to capture the sunrise over the lake.

2015 SML

Early Saturday Morning at Smith Mountain Lake

Fortunately, the winds filled in and by the time we were ready to race it was blowing 12 to 15 out of the northwest with some occasional puffs. The northwest winds allowed the PRO to set a course to race up and down the main body of the lake. We had 6 windward / leeward races between noon and 3:30 or so with a mix of single lap and twice around. The single lap races really emphasize the importance of a good start because everyone stays close together and there are limited opportunities to recover.

The party on Saturday night was a chance to recap the racing and enjoy Carolina style pork bbq along with all of the sides and fixins. As always, the entire Lightning / VISA crowd was so super friendly and hospitable. My family came for the day and we brought Alex’s wife and they had a great time during the day watching the racing from shore and chatting with people, and were warmly welcomed at the party by the sailing crowd as well.

There wasn’t much wind when we started trickling in to the club on Sunday for a 9:30 first warning signal.  The RC postponed ashore while we waited for the wind to fill in. After about 45 mins ashore, the RC headed out and we followed them in a light but building SW breeze.  The wind was roughly eight when we started and then dropped during the race several boats were unable to reach the finish before time expired as the wind died. Alex had his best start of the weekend coming up from the committee boat with speed after everyone else went down the line. This allowed us to get clear air and put us close to the layline. Charlie Wardwell skippering the Beauchamp’s Past Due and the Constance Brother’s managed to beat us to the windward mark and achieved some separation on the downwind but we managed to preserve our lead on the rest of the fleet. With little wind to race in the racing was called and we paddled to shore.Hill Billy crystal (mason jars on pedestals) was presented to the winners and we reluctantly hitched the boat up to head home after a relaxing weekend. PRO T.J. Witten in addition to doing a great job managing the racing took plenty of photos that are available here: http://tjwitten.zenfolio.com/p60241689


PRSA Spring Series 2

If you didn’t come out to sail this past weekend then you missed out. The tide was in so there was plenty of water and we had breeze out of the east / south east with winds in the mid teens with some occasional higher gusts.

At the skipper’s meeting it was decided to start all of the classes together so we had 6 Lightning’s, 3 Albacores, and 2 Buccaneers all on the line at once. We also had some pick up crew, new crew and combining of crews to get boats out on the water.

PRO Yates Dowell set triangle courses to start with a long reach leg to length the course given the constraints of sailing across the width of the river when we have the predominant east or west winds. After racing three triangle races we finished the day with two Olympic races.

The reach legs were fast and several times the boat felt like it was close to a plane even with only the job and the main. I watched several Albacores take off on the reaches. The tight reach and the shifts and the puffs made several of us cautious about flying the spinnaker but on several of the legs we were not overly disadvantaged by choosing not to.

Jon Van Voorhis had a great start on race 4 with his port tack from the pin end.We will have to keep our eye on Jon. We missed having Nabeel out because of the arrival of his first grandchild but expect to see him out next week. Congrats Nabeel!

We had several new crew come out and sail with various fleet members who I hope to see out racing again including Bianca sailing with Jim and Lisa Marie, Melissa sailing with Jon Van Voorhis and Will Phillippe, Miranda and Michael sailing with Bob Gotthardht, and Chris sailing with Bob Astrove and Ed Lane. If you have been thinking about checking out PRSA you should contact a fleet member or come to the cranes on Sunday morning about 9 AM at Washington Sailing Marina.

Overall, it was just a great day to be out racing and sailing. The long range forecast for Spring Series 3 is looking good so everyone should plan to be out racing.


PRSA Spring Series 1

A special thanks to Lindsay Bach for the Spring Series 1 writeup.

The opening day of PRSA’s 2015 Spring Series arrived clear, blue and still: the river was glass smooth and only faint wisps of breeze out of the north were all that remained of the frontal winds from the day before. Race Committee PRO Jim Graham pulled everyone together for the skippers’ meeting at ten and announced a one hour delay, noting that we all had to be off the water for the PRSA BBQ scheduled to begin at 3PM. Four Lightnings were present– Frank Gallagher, Nabeel Alsalam, Bob Astrove, and Lindsay Bach– along with groups of three or four each of Albacores, Buccaneers and Interlake Scows. So everyone milled about for an hour or so when Jim came walking through the clusters of sailors blowing his whistle, announcing another one hour delay. About halfway through the second hour, Jim decided we should all splash and the RC would tow the boats up to the course. This took about about three quarters of an hour during which time the the scows dropped out. The wind was still mostly absent though the forecast was calling for the breeze to come up out of the South sometime around one o’clock. So the fleet drifted and bobbed for about another three-quarters of an hour in the luxurious sunshine until a faint southerly breeze of about 3 mph began to fill in, right on schedule, a little after 1:00 PM.

The race committee started the first race on a W2 course with the windward buoy set about 300 yards down river, just off the new runway extension at the airport. It was slow going but at least we were going. Frank, Nabeel and Bob crossed the starting line followed by Lindsay. Rounding the weather mark, Lindsay managed to slip ahead of Bob on the downwind leg. Given that the southerly wind was only about 2-3 mph — barely enough to overcome the push of the incoming tide– the RC decided to shorten the course and finish after one lap. The positions established after the first weather mark held for the rest of the race with Frank in the lead followed by Nabeel, Lindsay and Bob. Frank crossed first about three boat lengths ahead of Nabeel, and as a measure of how light it was, Nabeel crossed about 2 minutes later.

After the first race, the Lightnings drifted around for another half an hour or so as the wind continued to slacken and the rest of the fleet struggled to finish. It was not exactly certain that the RC would hold another race as it was nearly 2 PM. However, fresh wind began to appear down by the Wilson Bridge and soon made its way up river, coming in finally at about 6-8 mph. The RC repositioned the weather mark a little further east out in the river and started the second race on the W2 course. The pin end was strongly favored but positions among the four boats were spread along the short line at the start. The fleet tacked away soon after the start towards the airport and Frank got out in front with Nabeel in second, followed by Bob and Lindsay — positions that remained unchanged throughout the race. After the finish, the fleet had a fine sail back to the marina followed by the PRSA BBQ

Fall Series #8: Breezy

After being away and missing most of the Fall Series I was glad to be back racing the Lightning on the river with the fleet. I left the house early and was ready to start rigging the boat by a little after nine. It was definitely breezier blowing in the mid teens down at the marina than further inland and despite being in the 50s it was cool when the sun hid behind the clouds as we started to get the boats ready. Right after the skipper’s meeting we went on and splashed14376 and had left the dock by 10:30 in our eagerness to start sailing.

It proved to be a bit of a challenge making our way up to the course with the board striking bottom due to the tide running out and the northwest winds pushing the water down the river. Fortunately, it is a little bit deeper further up so we didn’t have any issues once we reached the course area.

Barney Harris as PRO and the RC were ready to start races promptly at noon with the Z flag flying to wear life jackets.In total we had five lightnings (Shadowfax Sinistra, String Theory, Anger Management, and 14376), two buccaneers, and three albacores come up for the first race and later in the day had a group of lasers come up to get some practice in advance of the upcoming frost biting series starting in a few weeks.

The first race was a triangle three and when it started the winds were blowing in the upper teens with some occasional gusts to the mid twenties. I could tell it had been a while since I had to hike right away. Nabeel stayed to the airport side of the course on at least one of the upwinds which seemed to work well for him since later in the race I looked up to see him leading by close to leg.

The second race was again a triangle three but the winds had died down some to the lower teens. We had some tight racing with Chris Kozael and Bob G trying to cover the leader on the downwind while winging the jib. It was a great finish with Bob G trying to force us to luff up before we reached the last few boat lengths from the finish.  We ended up taking him by a nose as we put the nose over the finish before stalling out and having to fall back off.

Barney took pity on us for race three making it a triangle two. Again it made for some good racing with Chris and Bob G as we approached the leeward mark three wide on the first downwind before diverging after the rounding. The lack of practice this fall caught up to me with my spinnaker handling on the second downwind and took us out of contention.

After finishing the last race it was time to head in for the day. By this time the tide had almost reached its lowest point while the wind continued to shove all the water down the river. It proved to be a challenge trying to avoid getting stuck in the mud as we made our way up the channel back into the marina beating back and forth. I’ve never seen it that low before.

Bob Astrove 2013 Karl Smither Award Winner

A long overdue post to recognize Fleet 50’s own Bob Astrove as the 2013 Karl Smither Award winner.  This award is given annually by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club to the Lightning sailor best representing Corinthian spirit, support of the Lightning class, and Class membership.

Continue reading