Sunday, July 22, 2012

Be careful what you pray for!

Wind, wind, and more wind. It was almost more than we could handle today. Again we had a day of single-handed sailing, intensified by some strong wind. Troy got the course set up while Sandy, and I rigged up three boats for us to single-hand. Luckily Chris showed up so we could keep one person dedicated to Race Committee for safety reasons.

I let Sandy, Troy, and Chris take the boats out while I set the Race Committee boat in place. By the time I had my anchor set, they were already right behind me. I could tell for me this would be some intense racing punctuated with moments of sheer terror.

I got them started quickly because I could tell that they would rather be racing than waiting. They were off like a shot, hiked out to the max at times, pushing their boats to the limits. Sandy ended up finding her shoulder's limit before the boat maxed out. She was still in the race, but nursing a bum shoulder meant being a lot less aggressive.

Troy and Chris duked it out around the triangle course and were very close when coming around the leeward mark, heading toward the windward mark.

Shortly after this Chris looked back at Troy and smiled. Not the friendly smile we've all become accustomed to these past three race days, but a menacing smile. Troy was blinded by Chris's beautiful pearly choppers and when he looked away it caused him to tack. Chris was able to put some distance between himself and Troy before rounding the last two marks and finishing first.

After the first race between Chris, Troy and Sandy was over, it was my turn to hop into good ol' #3. It took a bit to acclimate to the wind, but I was able to safely tack back and forth near the line. However, once the race started, I had a really hard time getting the nerve to hike out an really let the sails power up. In the meantime Troy had put half a leg between us. Luckily Chris gave me some encouragement while I was still in earshot. He believed in me! Better yet, I realized that I was so close to the safety boat, that if I was going to capsize, this was the ideal location. I gritted my teeth, locked in the main sheet, and clenched so hard onto the jib sheet and tiller extension that they would have no choice to obey me instead of the wind.

I was really getting into the feel of it. The waves had a rhythm that seemed to sooth me during my downwind leg. I came around the leeward mark and was mentally preparing for the last two legs before the finish. Then I saw Troy round the windward mark and come straight at me. I was unable to read his face. Was this a new scare tactic? I yelled "Starboard" to remind him that I knew the rules and wasn't going to play his game. Then he showed me his tiller extension... unattached to his tiller. He said that there were some other issues and the boat was no longer safe. That was the end of that. I must admit, I was somewhat relieved.

After some boat swapping, we limped our boats and ourselves back to the dock. It was the shortest, most intense1-3/4 race I can recall. Back at the dock we exchanged some sailing stories of the past, recounting the times we narrowly escaped certain death at the hands of mother nature. I realized that we are all a little bit crazy for loving this sport so much, but the camaraderie that comes with these experiences are priceless.

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