Sun Jan 13
Last race of the 2008 Laser Caribbean Midwinters at Cabarete. Last chance to be a hero. Or, more realistically, last chance to finish somewhere other than the tail end of the fleet.
The wind is just right for me. Strong enough that my height and weight (post-two-month-inactivity-and-Xmas 10-pound-weight-gain weight) should give me the ability to grind down the little guys upwind. Not so strong that I'm going to lose it downwind.
One of my friends sails by before the start and shouts something about leaving it all out there on the course, no point in saving anything for tomorrow. Yeah baby.
No more timid starts. No more half-hearted hiking. No more Mr Nice Guy at mark roundings. This is it. Game on.
I ace a great start... front row, mid-line, heading left. (Yeah left, I do learn from my mistakes eventually.) One of the best sailors from the clinic is to leeward of me but I hike hard and focus on boatspeed and hold my lane for the first couple of minutes until I detect a small header and tack.
Hmmm. Maybe I haven't totally forgotten how to sail this beast.
I work the left side of the course, make sure I'm always sailing in clear air, rig powered up as much as I can handle, hiking my socks off... and I'm around mid-fleet at the first mark. Best beat this regatta.
Yeah baby. Now I remember why I love this sport.
I'm working the waves downwind, getting some good rides, no thoughts of capsizes, execute a nice smooth leeward mark rounding ahead of people I've been behind all week, and I'm off upwind again, looking good.
Middle of the beat I'm on a convergence course with one of the other fast sailors from the clinic. He tries to lay a leebow on me but isn't quite ahead enough to make it work. We're bow to bow. I hike superhard for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds. My quads are screaming but I'm edging ahead. Yeah, now he's in my bad air and he has to tack away. Ha. This is what it's all about. Meet the best man-to-man and grind him down. Take that dude!
Now I'm on the left of the course next to the guy who almost won race 1. All the way up the second half of the beat I'm hanging in there with him. Hmmm, maybe I'm not as slow as I thought.
Smooth bear away at the mark and catch the first wave. This is how I should have been sailing all week. One boat passes me on the run. (Hey he's always giving me good advice in the comments here so that's OK.) Even so, I finish in the middle of the fleet, way better than I've done in any other race this regatta.
Well, it took me all week but I finally found my groove. Nothing better than finishing a regatta with your best race. Maybe I won't give up Laser sailing after all.
- With the right attitude I can make a great start.
- If I hike hard I can hang in there with the best.
- Staying close to the leading pack is better odds than banging the other corner.
- Now I need to work out why I wasn't sailing like this all week.
- Then I need to work out how to move even further up the fleet.