So here we are at the end of the Fall Series again. I hate this time of the year! Looking back at our log, I see our long campaign that began in March in Deltaville, VA with our usual 142 mile spring delivery to WSM. Then came the assorted Spring regattas and races in DC and Quantico; Cherry Blossom, Geico Cup, Spring Series and the Quantico Spring Regatta. These races are Dark Star’s tune up for Southern Bay Race Week, (SBRW), also referred to as Black Seal Cup.
That’s the first 242 NM under the keel. Now off to the races:
A nice long delivery down to Hampton, VA with Liz. At just over 162 miles, it’s a nice trip that we complete in 2 days of casual motor sailing. At the end of the trip, the world class Hampton YC always welcomes us for the week. The three days of mixed racing formats is always challenging and the competition is the best on the Bay. The crew stays in the hotel next to the club, and the pool and the bar get a workout at the hands of the crews of 88 boats! And then the party starts! This year featured heavy air and steep waves-a complete departure from DISC racing.
Then it’s back to WSM from Hampton! I have been single-handing some deliveries in the last few years, so I took this one and had the boat back in her slip in a quick 28 hours. Just in time for Tuesday night racing! Onward with the Summer 1 & 2 series, and a quick trip back to Deltaville Boat Works for a fresh coat of bottom paint and fairing.
Great times with Bob & Lisa Fleck!
Now Dark Star heads to Colonial Beach for the start of the Maryland Governor’s Cup, Potomac leg. This race was akin to a 54 mile beat into a tropical squall, and had some of the strongest downpours we have ever raced in. Despite shredding our “new” #1 genoa (the Baconator) in a 32 kt squall, we managed to keep it together and surf to a 1st place finish in class.
A few painkillers (the drink) and showers, its back to WSM via Colonial Beach!
Now passing 1,080 NM….
RC duty for Leukemia Cup was a blast, thanks to all who helped !
Next, we were thrilled to sail on behalf of the United States against the UK Team in the Alexandria Bicentennial Celebration of their shameful surrender to the Royal Navy in 1814. We were pleased to beat the British this time around, and host the Allison Silberberg, Vice Mayor of Alexandria aboard for the race.
Into the Fall Series now, and the much anticipated 54 mile Masters of the Potomac race, hosted by Quantico YC. I cannot say enough about this challenging race, and encourage everyone to do it! This year was a 3 way knife fight between Rouge, Chimera and Dark Star, with Blue Boat back in the mix ready to snipe victory from the winner!
No wind, rain, sun, and high wind. Sail changes and reefing. Real boat stuff. At the end of the 54 mile race Rogue corrected up over Dark Star by 15 seconds, with Chimera correcting a mere 9 seconds behind us! One for the record books!
And now the end of the Fall Series, but with some good racing ahead! Fall Classics, Under the Guns at Dahlgren, Quantico & DISC frostbites!
We have arrived at Mile 1,334 with a couple hundred left to go. 2014 is almost in the bag……
But only 2 months left till Hangover Race!
Leaving the dock, I knew we were in for a sailing treat, with temperatures in the mid-50′s and a forecast of rain all day. It wasn’t until just after crossing the starting line though, that a thick fog sat down on us, making it seem as if we were lone explorers on the water searching for the next shore (mark). Every now and then we caught a glimpse of the old Alexandria plant to orient ourselves and dodged the surprise arrival of river cruise boats. The wind was decent, competition good, but the unique weather challenges made it a race to remember. Chiripa, Chimera, We Few, and Rogue raced that day. Photo courtesy of Bryn Farrar & Chimera.
Firefly, captained by DISC member and 2014 Race Director Dave Easter, received Best in Show at the annual Parade of Lights. Congratulations to Dave and the Firefly crew for taking top honors in the nearly 40 boat fleet that turned out for the parade. Read more about it at the Old Town Alexandria Patch
As a veteran of all the new Potomac River Leg – Governor’s Cup races, I think I can safely declare that this is a terrific sail. Crewing on Bob and Johanna Soli’s Blue Boat, both years were delightfully similar. Balmy moderate winds that blew all night from the southeast. And a course short enough for smaller boats to finish before the dreaded daybreak calm.
Last year’s inaugural race was a fetch from the start at Dahlgren to the turning mark at the mouth of the Potomac with just a few tacks – which was ideal for our short handed crew. I recall steering through the night directly toward the newly rising full moon, which tracked perfectly with the changing breeze that lifted us directly to the turning mark off Pt. Lookout.
The 2013 version was a constant reach without a single tack that produced an average boat speed of 5.5kts for the 47mile race. This year was moonless, which was great for stargazing, with clearly visible Milky Way and constellations that we rarely get to see, plus plentiful meteors and luminescent jellyfish.
For the DISC newbies, Blue Boat is the red-hulled Cal 27 on B dock. In the few years that Bob and Johanna have sailed their boat, they earned a reputation as an adventuresome, affable and inventive pair. They initiated the Night Crawlers (now in modified form as the Happy Hour sail) and the Potomac Century race. And they won a surprising number of races for folks with little sailing experience before moving from North Dakota
Don’t let the rough shape of Blue Boat fool you. Under the right conditions she can be very competitive. In this case, the right conditions included participation by my Coupe de Vent shipmates, Tab Sommer and Tom Watson with the result being 2nd place in the Potomac Leg Spinnaker fleet.
I confess to being a big fan of down-river racing. Quantico, Masters of the Potomac, Dahlgren, even our own Mt Vernon Sprints. Get away from the traffic (water and air), channeling and wind shadows north of the Wilson bridge. As the DISC Gov Cup boats will confirm (Rogue, Split Decision and Moovin), it’s very different racing in the bigger waters further south and well worth the task of delivery. S2 Skippers, please note that there is a conveniently located launching ramp at the Dahlgren marina that Rob Gibb used for Rogue.
Have to give props to Rogue for a smoking fast sail. When Rogue finished, the only boat that had arrived before them was a high tech tri named Sundog. Rogue got their gun at 1:24am. Donnybrook rolled in an hour later (that laggard). So the first three boats at the St. Mary’s dock were a carbon 30’ trimaran, an 80-foot canting keel maxi sloop, and little Rogue.
Big-time, big water, long distance racing without leaving the Potomac. And it’s half the distance of Dark Star’s round trip to Annapolis. Bob and Johanna flew in from Alabama for the race and they did most of the delivery by themselves. C’mon DISC sailors – put it on your racing calendar for 2014. You can’t win if you don’t play – and the odds are way better than Lotto.