Frigid Digit Lives Up To Its Name!

Wow!  True to form and tradition, it blew at the Frigid Digit and it was brisk, if not exactly chilly.  We saw winds in the high teens and 20s on Saturday, with 10 boats going over in a particularly nasty blast in the last race.  There were plenty of other capsizes, round-ups, and near wipe-outs throughout the rest of the day a well.  Fleet 50 was well represented with 4 boats in the regatta (Chris, Bob G., Nabeel, Rick), and we were all honored to receive “swim club awards” (along with about 10 other teams) for our capsizes!  The wind piped up even more on day 2 and racing was abandoned for day 2, which was probably a good thing given the chilly temps and gusts in the 20s.

John Butler took some photos from Red Rover (thanks John!) and we also got a great group shot at the Saturday night party.  It was windy, but we all survived and it was fantastic to see such great Fleet 50 participation in the regatta.

Fleet 50 2014 Frigid Digit


A Frigid Digit That Wasn’t Frigid!

For the first time in recent memory, the Frigid Digit wasn’t all that Frigid!  What’s more, we had a fantastic turnout (38 boats!), great breeze on both days, and some incredible competition.  If you weren’t there, you missed an amazing regatta! In addition to the details that I’ve posted below, I’d also recommend reading Geoff Becker’s excellent summary of the racing.  Geoff finished 2nd in the regatta, and I’ve included a link to his write-up in the post on the Fleet 50 website.  A huge thanks to our friends up at SSA in Fleet 329 for hosting a great regatta and a great party!

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Frigid Digit This Weekend!

Who’s headed up to the Frigid Digit this weekend?  This is a fantastic regatta just up the way in Annapolis.  There are already 34 boats signed up, so we’re guaranteed to have some great racing.  Let’s see if we can help our friends up in Fleet 329 break 40 boats for the regatta.  Here’s the link to the regatta info page and sign up form:

Remember to post to the listserv if you are looking for crew, or if you are available to crew.  Skippers, remember that you can also check the PRSA Crew Connection listings if you need crew (

I look forward to seeing you out on the water up in Annapolis this weekend!

Upcoming Regattas

We’re off and running in the fall racing season!  In addition to the weekly PRSA Sunday Series races, I want to emphasize that we have a number of great Dixie District regattas coming up this fall.  Mark your calendars, organize your crew, check your trailer bearings, and get ready to travel for some great racing!

  • SMSA Small Boat Invitational: 28-29 September, Solomons, MD.  The folks down at SMSA are working hard to put together a Lightning division for this regatta, so let’s all head down to support them and then to enjoy some fun at the Tiki Bar after the racing!
  • Frigid Digit: 19-20 October, Annapolis Maryland (SSA).  A fall classic just up the road in Annapolis!
  • Hampton Fall Fling: 16-17 November, Hampton VA.  A great way to wrap up the fall sailing season!

Traveling to one or more of these regattas is a great way to get some more great racing under your belt against some top-notch competition.  It’s also a fantastic way to staying touch with all of the great sailors we have in the District.  Let’s try to get a great Fleet 50 showing at each of these regattas this fall!

SSA Summer Series Recap (II)

Well, as they say, showing up is step one!  We were fortunate to sail Sinistra to an overall victory in the SSA Summer Series this past weekend, primarily due to the fact that we were one of the few boats to sail in all four race days.  Nonetheless, it is no easy task to keep pace with your competition when your competition is the Hurbans or John Guth or Todd Johnson or Joe Friebele.  Overall, we had some great racing and the series provided me with a great chance to keep working on the challenge of sailing in light wind and chop.  Many thanks to Diane and John Butler for crewing for me this past weekend, and to Nicole, Tree, Kyra, and Rebecca for sailing with me during the first summer series weekend in late June.

Thanks to Joe Friebele and the folks up at SSA and Fleet 329 for putting on two great weekends of racing this summer, and many thanks to Rick for letting me sail his boat while he was away.  Keep reading for some details from this past weekend’s racing, including an account of one of the most exciting finishes I’ve had in a Lightning race of late!

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SSA Summer Series Recap

The turnout for the first SSA Summer Series this past weekend was light, and so was the breeze.  We did manage to get a few races in over the weekend, though, and it was good practice to sail in the light air and chop that so often predominate in Annapolis over the summer.  The post-regatta party at SSA was also a good time!  Keep reading for some of the details from the weekend’s racing.

I ended up driving Sinistra all weekend as Rick was busy.  Nicole and Tree from PRSA & DC Sail were kind enough to rew for me on Saturday.  John Guth, Todd Johnson, and Collin Kirby were also out to race, making for 4 Lightnings in the series.  The day started out with a good 8-10 knot breeze as we sailed out to the racecourse and we were soon off on our first race.  Watching the Stars, Solings, & J-22s go off before us gave us a good sense of where to find pressure, and our pack headed out left for a bit before taking a hitch over to the right.  We rounded second, behind John Guth, and followed him downwind.  The wind was starting to move left, and the RC signaled a course change at the leeward mark.  Right as we hit that mark, the lefty really filled in and we soon found ourselves wound up inside of the pack pointing directly to the (new) windward mark.  We should have led the pack around the mark and back downhill for an easy win, but rounding the windward mark was no easy task.  There was a pile of J-22s and Solings stacked up trying to make their roundings, and the current was absolutely ripping as it sucked in to the Severn (something that I had never really experienced).  We failed to go far enough on our first attempt, got caught in traffic on our second, and finally made it around the mark on our third try.  In the meanwhile, Collin had sailed up and rounded cleanly inside of the pileup.  We watched him march away for the win, followed by us and then John (who had led the entire race up to that point).

The RC reset the course for the new wind and sent us into sequence for the second race.  I wish I had the GoPro running for this one, as we did a fantastic job of nailing the line right at the transom of the boat right as the gun went.  The wind had shifted back right during our sequence, so nailing the boat meant that we were once again leading the pack and pointing right at the windward mark.  We charged out ahead and had a clear lead as we made the turn.  Nicole and Tree did a great job with the jibe set — we hoisted the chute without a pole as we bore off on starboard and rolled right into a jibe as Nicole pulled the chute all the way around.  It was almost perfection…but for whatever reason the spin halyard let loose, so I suddenly found the spinnaker behind the boat just as I realized that we (now on port) were headed straight for the remaining boats coming upwind on starboard!  We shot up to dodge the traffic, reeled in the chute and re-hoisted, but not before John snuck by us.  We held our spot on the tight reach and then went right (given the windshift) on the next upwind leg, along with both Todd and John.  That should have been the right call, but Collin split far left and gained, meaning that we ended up finishing behind all of them — especially frustrating after the great start.

In race three we had a bit less breeze, but it had finally settled into a pretty consistent direction (E/SE).  I did remember to tag the GoPro this time, so the video (to be posted soon) will show us getting a good mid-line start and then working upwind with the pack.  Once again we had good speed, and this time we didn’t make any boat handling errors such that we were able to finish behind John Guth for a well-earned 2nd place.

On Sunday Kyra from our own Buc fleet along with Rebecca (an SSA local) crewed for me.  The forecast was for steady south breeze at 10-12, but I drove up to Annapolis in a rainstorm and no breeze.  The rain cleared and we headed out to the course in a light N/NE breeze.  Collin didn’t show, so there was just John, Todd, and I on the starting line as the RC sent us off in a very light breeze.  We went left with John, as we thought we saw more pressure there, while Todd split right after having to restart.  We worked left a bit, and then went right for some pressure that we saw.  John carried on left, then tacked over and looked to have gained a bit.  For our part, it initially looked like we’d be behind Todd as we converged in the middle of the course.  He tacked to leeward and ahead of us, and we entered into a slow-speed duel as we moved towards the starboard tack layline.  We were pleased to have a bit more speed and point as we dueled with Todd and worked our way up a bit towards John who was now on port paralleling us a bit farther to weather.  We all flopped over to the mark at the same time, and we rounded second following John downwind.

It was very light by now, so it was slow going.  We had a bit of trouble raising the centerboard on Sinistra and once I went to lower it again as we jibed for the mark, we found that it was jammed in the up position!  What the…???  A big left shift, combined with our fooling with the centerboard meant that Todd was able to make good gains downwind.  The board was still jammed up as we rounded the leeward mark, so we went partially sideways (and carried on right) as the other boats worked to weather and went left to take advantage of the shift.  Initially Rebecca crawled under the deck and then I handed over the helm and did the same.  Eventually I found that the turning block attached to the fore-most part of the boat (right at the bow) had broken, and the centerboard line had jumped out of the block and jammed in the sheave.  I was able to free it with some tugging and a Leatherman tool, but by now we were way behind.  The RC shortened course to finish us at the windward mark in the fading breeze.  It took us forever to get there…and once we did the breeze shut off altogether.  We all drifted around for a bit as the RC waited and tried to gauge the weather.  We watched line after line of rain showers moved south to north farther out on the bay, each one sucking up whatever breeze we might have had.  Eventually the RC abandoned for the day, and we were all towed in under dead calm.  Too bad we didn’t have more breeze, but there was cold beer and some great Dark & Stormy’s waiting for us on shore.

I haven’t seen posted results, but John won each race and I think Todd would be in second, us in third, and Collin in fourth.  The final SSA Summer Series races will be on July 13 and July 14 — don’t miss out on the fun!

George Shapiro Memorial No Gas Regatta: May 11-12


Our friends up at SSA in Fleet 329 will be hosting the No Gas regatta on May 11-12. Mark your calendar and make plans to attend now — it would be great to have a strong Fleet 50 showing at this regatta! The full NOR with links is posted below.  You can download registration form from and fill out one copy at

Please note that the No Gas is being held in conjunction with the 1st Annual Olivia Constants Foundation Fundraiser.  Competitors are invited to attend the Fundraiser for dinner on Saturday evening. Advanced tickets are recommended and can be purchased at

Here are the links for the 2013 No Gas NOR and for information on the 1st Annual OCF Fundraiser.