The original plan for last Saturday was for my son and I to sail our Lasers in the Fat Boys Regatta in Bristol. For different reasons, I suspect, each of us lost enthusiasm for this plan over the week and an alternative sailing plan was hatched. In my case, I decided I wanted to go for a shorter sail that would not consume the whole day as a regatta would, because my grandkids would only be staying with us one day (Saturday) and I wanted to have some time with them as well as sailing with their Dad. Hey, it says over there >>> in my profile that I'm a grandfather first and a Laser sailor second.
My son's reasons for wanting to bag the regatta must remain a mystery to you dear readers. Far be it from me to suggest that he didn't feel fit enough to sail all day in a decent breeze or that he didn't want to sail in the rain forecast for the afternoon. I would never say such things.
I had been telling the little dude for some time about the awesome sailing conditions to be enjoyed off Third Beach Newport, home of the New England Laser Masters Championship for the past few years, especially in a southerly wind when the waves are rolling in from Rhode Island Sound. So that was the decision. A blast in the morning at Third Beach and back home in time to play with the grandkids.
Third Beach did not disappoint. The parking lot was empty and bleak but once we had launched and reached out to the middle of the Sakonnet River, the conditions were as excellent as I have know them there. 15-20 knots out of the south-east with waves several feet high, better than I've found at any other location around here. The leeward sides of the waves seemed exceptionally steep and I experimented with various violent torquing movements to try and find a way to work the boat through the waves more efficiently. Eventually I found a rhythm that seemed to work but my body paid the price for my efforts the next day. (Or perhaps it was the combination of sailing the waves on Saturday and my ten mile run on Friday.)
Little dude was fast upwind. Faster and higher than me. Truth is he really isn't so little a dude any more and his weight advantage over me really showed upwind.
After about half an hour of solid upwind work in the general direction of Bermuda I conceded defeat and signalled that we should head downwind. Aaaaaaah. Is there any better feeling than catching a loooooong ride on a big wave? I was so focused on keeping the sharp end of the boat pointing downhill and the stick thingie pointing at the sky that I could only occasionally check over my shoulder to see if little dude was still upright behind me.
We reached around a bit, back and forth between Little Compton and Middletown, and then set off upwind again (not quite as far as Bermuda this time) before another wild downwind ride in which the little dude did manage to death roll once. I went back and hovered around his capsized boat until I was sure he was OK.
Once we had had enough, we returned to the beach and derigged. As it was lunchtime, I suggested we head into town and check out Flo's Clam Shack. A pitcher of beer, bowls of chowder, fried oysters and clams.... Mmmm. Little dude expressed the opinion that Flo's was not as good as Evelyn's in Tiverton where we went after our sail two weeks before. But hey, you can't expect Newport to be able to compete with my new home town, and it was still a pretty damn good way to round off my 80th day of Laser sailing in 2008.
Only 20 more to go to the big 100!