"Congratulations Tillerman! You're beating a world champion."
What? Am I at the right blog? Is this Tillerman, perennial loser, capsizer, Laser breaker, and all-round crap sailor?
Yes dear reader, you are at the right place. Allow me to explain.
"Congratulations Tillerman! You're beating a world champion." OK, that wasn't exactly what the coach said to me as I rounded the windward mark in a practice race at the pre-regatta clinic in Cabarete a couple of weeks ago. No, he didn't say "Tillerman". He used my real name. But he did say the bit about beating a world champion and he was right.
What? No way! This is Tillerman's blog, right?
Yup. It happened like this. On the last day of the clinic the winds were somewhat lighter and the water somewhat flatter than they had been earlier in the week. Almost like the lake sailing with which I am all to familiar. We were mainly doing starting drills and practice races, and a couple of other sailors who hadn't attended the clinic (but were entered in the regatta) joined us for the drills. Most prominently some fit-looking young guy with the letters POR on his sail.
The drill was for even sail numbers to start in the right-hand end of the line and odd sail numbers to start nearer the pin. I cruised down the line looking for a gap between two even-numbered boats luffing on the line, found one, reached in to it, sheeted in and crossed the line at full speed as the start whistle went. A perfect starboard tack shark attack start just like John Kolius taught us.
Most of the fleet tacked out to the right of the course but I couldn't see why as I had felt all afternoon that there was more wind on the left. There was clearly some reason why all the smart money was betting right but sometimes God rewards ignorance and stupidity. I was right. Left was right and right was wrong. So as I headed in to the windward mark just shy of the port tack layline, I could see that I would easily cross the guys on the starboard tack layline with that POR guy in the lead.
So I tacked comfortably ahead of him and that's when the coach told me that I was beating a world champion. POR was Gustavo Lima from Portugal, the 2003 Laser World Champion.
But as I did trash myself in a ritual round of self-flagellation on Friday, please allow me to pat myself on the back with some more self-congratulation today. I was not only leading the 2003 Laser World Champion, but close behind him was the 2005 Laser US Youth Champion. Not to mention further back in the fleet the 1975 Laser European champion and subsequent winner of ten Laser Masters World Championships; and two other guys with at least five more Laser Masters World Championships between them.
Not too shabby. As Andy Warhol said, we all have our fifteen minutes of fame. Or in my case about fifteen seconds of minor glory. Gustavo worked his way inside me on the run and rounded the leeward mark ahead of me. But man it felt good while it lasted. And I still crossed the finish line ahead of the holders of those fifteen other world championships.
Wow. My arm's aching. Must be all that patting myself on the back. So let me end by congratulating Gustavo Lima for winning the Laser gold medal at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta last week against one of the toughest fleets ever to race in North America including the current World Champion Michael Blackburn.
Cabarete rocks. Tune up in DR and win the OCR!