On Saturday morning I was in charge of the race committee for the club's junior regatta which is sailed in Sunfish. As I mentioned in my post about Wednesday night sailing, we have a couple of hot shot juniors who have been winning most of the local junior regattas and did well at the junior nationals. We also have a family of three kids -- brother, sister and cousin -- who learned to sail last year and have been competing regularly in the Wednesday and Sunday Sunfish series with the club's adults this year. Until Saturday I hadn't realized how much the whole group had improved and how close in skill levels they now are.
The wind was a puffy north-westerly. Our course area was in a part of the reservoir with two coves to windward of the windward mark and stretching away roughly north and north-west. The wind would come out of one of these bays for a few minutes and then switch to coming out of the other. We solved the problem of these huge shifts by setting two windward marks, one pink and the other yellow to suit the two competing winds. Then we told the kids before each start which mark we were using for the windward leeward courses.
I ran six short races during the morning. Our two hotshots must have been asleep or overconfident because in the first few races the other three kids were showing them up. It was a pleasure to watch how competitive the fleet was. We had a kid OCS in each of the first two races -- not by much, just a sign of them being prepared to really push the line. Usually the problem with beginners is that they are too timid at the start. In one race we watched with delight as the smallest, lightest, youngest kid surfed past his cousin in a puff to take the lead.
After four races, only two points separated first and last boats. After five races, only one point separated the first three boats. And everyone had won at least one race -- except for the kid that everyone (including himself I would guess) had assumed to be the top junior sailor in the club. In the final race the hotshots finally got their act together and did well enough to just win their respective age groups.
As they sailed in for lunch I felt good on so many levels. The race committee work had gone smoothly in spite of the shifty winds. The kids had enjoyed themselves, sailed hard, competed fairly and shown good sportsmanship. But above all I felt good about the state of junior sailing in the club. If this group of five stick together and continue to push each other to excel, there's no limit to what they might achieve.
A good morning on the water. Almost as good as sailing myself.