Thursday, May 10, 2007

Naked Sailing at US Naval Academy

Another entry in our group writing project on your most embarrassing moments while sailing came via email from JSW225...

About a month back I got to participate in some match racing at the Naval Academy in their Colgate 26's. As much fun as it was, there was a lot riding against us. First being that I had an inexperienced crew. Not necessarily as in we hadn't practiced together (although we hadn't). But only one of my crew had experience on that boat, the other two weren't too experienced with racing. On top of this, it was my first sail of the year. I literally had not been in a boat since the previous fall.

I realized the day would be even more fun when half the other teams were military academies, and about a quarter of the ones that were not military academies were top ranked from in our district, and out.

The day started pretty well when we were greeted with an inch of snow on the boat. As hard as we tried to sweep it off, it was still there. And I was VERY nervous about putting up a green racer on a slick bow for the spinnaker. The wind picked up, and I got even more nervous.
I was confused as how the starting sequence worked and as to which race we would be in. However, I knew that if I didn't cross the line to match race between 4:00 and 2:00 prestart, a jury boat would chase me down, and penalize me, so I wasn't too worried about not understanding the flight, because I'd at least know when to get to the line. But, given my luck, NO jury boat chased me down. Later I found out I had missed my race.

The next flight, we buckled down and actually started a race. Over the course of the day we had won a few, but lost most of our races, which was to be expected. I also got a little gift from god, being in that the wind picked up so high that spinnakers were not allowed during the races.

The problem started when I was slated to race against the Naval Academy. At the time my jib was down, and there was about 4-5 minutes til the 4:00 barrier where we could cross the line. I wanted to wait to put the jib up til the last minute. My crew wanted to put it up at that moment. I ended up being right. They put the jib up, and didn't take up the slack. Just as I predicted, the jib sheets got tangled, and in 25 knot winds with a flapping jib, they got tangled bad. I tried really hard to guide my crew to get the stuff untangled.

Soon I realized that we were on the wrong tack, heading away from the line, and we were really short on time. Earlier in the day we learned that we could get screwed really bad by a starboard boat if we weren't right on time in crossing the line. So I was getting really nervous as my 4:00 passes. Finally they get it untangled, and I scream off for the line. I get to the port pin just in time for the Naval Academy to get under me and block me out.

Right about now I want to explain the colgate 26. It's a decent boat with a large cockpit area. My only quarrel with it is that there is about 2-3 inches of space between the tiller clearance, and the center mainsheet console.

So with the naval academy right under me, I understand that I need to get separation in order to get back to the line. So I start zigging from close reach up to close haul. I see I get enough clearance just at the ripe moment that the NA's skipper is looking away from me. I cut hard towards him, duck him with about 2 feet worth of clearance, and start to head to the line. This all happened on a thousand pound boat in a span of about a second. Immediately I saw that the angles were just a touch not in my favor and I had to crash gybe.

In the process of crash gybing (which I probably should have informed my crew about), I try to pass between the tiller and the console. It catches the back of my pants, and pulls them down all the way. Because I got caught, I fell down on the original port side. Because the tiller wasn't free to move, I lost control of the boat. The boat heeled wildly over.

Suddenly I realized that my bare ass was sitting on fiberglass. The tiller had caught my boxers as well as my sweat pants. I clear the tiller off of my pants, and instantly prioritize what needed to be done. First, I needed control of the boat. Second, I needed to cross the line. Third, I needed to get my crew in order. Fourth, I needed to pull my pants up.

I get control and stand up. My crew immediately gets their footing and starts doing their jobs. I look forward, and see I'm about 3-4 feet away from the mark, aiming dead on. I look to port and see the NA scrambling to cover their mistake in letting me go. I decide I can't cross in front of them without fouling them, so I try to cut above the mark, seeing as how it was so screwed that I needed to reset. The momentum of the boat carried it sideways to port, and we hit it.

Now I realize that I'm standing up in a boat with my pants around my knees, my ass is facing the other boat, and they're probably really angry (assuming this entire maneuver was intentional). For some odd reason, the 3 people who were no more then 5 feet away from me did NOT realize that I was half naked driving the boat.

About this time, I pull up my pants and get held off by the Naval Academy. The race starts, and I have 2 fouls against me. First, I didn't cross inbetween 4:00 and 2:00. Next, I hit the mark.

After I cross, and dip under the line, I start to do my turns. The jury boat comes up to me and with a condescending tone asks if I know why I was penalized. I almost got another one for unsportsmanlike conduct. But I decided not to say anything.

Never in any race did I ever sail half naked, get so many penalties before the start, and end up getting boned really hard.

Thanks JSW225.


M Squared said...

Is this where you got the name "Tillerman"?

Tillerman said...

Ha ha. This story is by JSW225, not me.

JSW225 said...

I have yet to hear the end of when I capsized my first day out with my sailing club roughly 3 years after it happened.

I highly doubt I'll ever hear the end of me mooning the Naval Academy.

M Squared said...

Ooops... I missed that part. Sorry.

EVK4 said...

An organization called "Improv Everywhere" holds an annual No Pants Day in NY here.

It's not sailing but at least Mr. JSW225 won't stick out so much!

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