What was the most momentous news in the sailing world this weekend?
Was it Simon Payne from the UK winning the International Moth Worlds in Denmark? Was it Finland's Silja Lehtinen and Australian crew Scott Babbage winning the 29er Worlds in the UK? Or was it that Elia Borrego from Spain and Theofanis Kavvas of Greece won the girls' and boys' divisions at the Optimist European Championships in the Netherlands?
No. None of the above. The most auspicious event in the sailing universe this weekend was... Tillerwoman went sailing.
For those that don't know my darling wife let me explain some of the history. She and I learned to sail together at Minorca Sailing back in the early 80's. At the end of the week with Tillerwoman crewing and me on the helm we won the beginners' race. At which point she announced that she had decided she didn't like sailing and I embarked on my subsequent career as a single-handed sailor.
Occasionally, very occasionally, in the intervening years she has been tempted on to a sailboat. When the planets are aligned absolutely correctly, I have been able to persuade her to take a ride, such as one afternoon when we took out a beach cat on Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. She has even more rarely been persuaded to crew in a friendly race such as the time she crewed for a friend in the Rhodes 19 racing at Bitter End Yacht Club. They won. Or the afternoon at BEYC when my family and some friends took out a couple of J24s and organized some informal match racing in North Sound. Tillerwoman's boat won.
In spite of her unbeaten record as a racing crew, she still maintains that she doesn't like sailing. I sail several times a week. She goes for years without stepping on a sailboat.
But this weekend Tillerwoman went sailing. Both my sons along with their partners and our granddaughter are visiting us this weekend. On Saturday afternoon, son #2 and his girlfriend decided they wanted to go sailing and went out on our lake in my Laser. Much to my astonishment Tillerwoman decided she wanted to do the same, so she and I floated around the lake in the other boat in the Tillerman fleet, a Sunfish.
She was hanging on to the edge of the cockpit with both hands in a death grip for the first ten minutes or so. She considered for a while whether she might feel safer sitting on the floor of the cockpit rather than the deck. She was convinced at first that she would never get under the boom during tacks -- but she did. She refused my suggestion to "hold the rope thingie". (I have given up trying to teach her correct nautical terminology such as "trim", "line" or "sheet.) She was horrified when I told her we needed to gybe to return to the launching ramp -- but she survived.
There was more laughing than screaming; more smiles than expressions of sheer terror.
All in all, an historic event that probably won't be repeated this decade. Mark the date.
On July 29 2006 Tillerwoman went sailing.