Sat 12 Jan
The second day of the Caribbean Laser Midwinters Regatta at Cabarete promises to be the best day of the week so far, for several reasons...
- We are racing outside the reef.
- There is wind.
- The wind is increasing during the day.
- There are waves.
- It's not raining.
I do OK in the first two races. Just OK. Not great.
The third race I guess it is blowing about 20 knots with the current running against the wind. The swell is coming from the left side of the course looking upwind but there is also a lot of chaotic chop on top of the waves.
I do OK on the upwind leg. Just OK. Not great.
Then on the downwind leg I capsize. I am sailing a more-or-less direct line for the leeward mark and one of the waves coming from the side rolls me to windward. I'm not the only one to capsize but I think my response to it is probably the worst in the fleet.
I do a fairly slow capsize recovery. Make sure I turn the bow into the wind first so I won't do one of those capsize recoveries with the rig lying to windward of the hull which is a recipe for letting the wind capsize the boat again before you can get into the cockpit.
OK. I'm back in the boat. Let's start sailing again. But somehow I've lost the ability to steer the boat aggressively down the waves. I sail fifty yards or so and death roll again. Another slow recovery. This time partly because I'm getting a bit tired.
Back in the boat again. Rest of fleet is way downwind near the leeward mark. Sail off tentatively in that general direction. Big mistake. Wham. A third death roll. This is starting to irritate me.
Do a very very slow third capsize recovery. Hmmm. Now I'm about half a leg behind the next boat. I seem to have lost all ability to sail downwind properly. I'm getting more tired. Time to call it a day. This is probably the last race of the day anyway. There's a regatta dinner planned for tonight and I'm sure the race committee won't want us to be late for the party.
I sail back to the beach feeling dejected and angry at myself. Why can't I just snap back after a capsize? Almost everybody capsized at least once. It's no big deal. Why do I lose all confidence in my ability to handle the waves and then start sailing in a way that just invites more capsizes.
I get back to the beach and that guy, my nemesis, the sailor I am always trying to beat is there before me. He has some totally unbelievable tale of being involved in a hassle with another boat at the leeward mark, getting into irons, capsizing, being dragged underwater for a hundred yards, having his nose and ears pumped full of seawater so he's totally deaf and totally drowned... or some such cock-and-bull story. I don't believe a word of it.
It's obvious to me that we both have the same issue. We capsized. We lost it. Two old farts who should know better.
Oh well. It's good to know I'm not the only one.
- Need more time practicing in waves. Terrigal here I come.
- When waves are coming from the quarter and threatening to capsize me I should probably bear off and ride those waves downwind and then come back up on a (more stable) broad reach.
- Fitness matters. I knew I wasn't fit enough coming into this regatta, and this is how it shows.
- Maybe it's time to consider a Radial Rig. At Masters regattas we are allowed to switch between Standard and the smaller Radial rigs from day to day. One of my friends (about my weight) sailed a Radial Rig the whole regatta and had a whole lot of fun. The current Great Grandmaster World Champion sailed a Radial rig one day in this regatta. I've been doing the macho "I don't need a Radial" thing for years now. Maybe it's time to recognize my limitations and use a rig I can handle on the windier days? At the very least I could use it for practice on very windy days when otherwise I probably wouldn't go out on my own.
- I need to find a way to adjust my mental attitude to capsizes on runs. Bounce back. Do a fast recovery. Sail on aggressively. Get back in the game. I used to do this. Why have I lost it?
- Fitness matters.
At the regatta dinner we shared a table with a sailor whose partner seemed to be an expert masseuse. During the evening she progressed around the table giving each sailor (and some of their wives) a shoulder and back rub. We all laughed as she commented on how she perceived each sailor's tenseness or otherwise. "Oh, you're really soft." "You're so tense."
When she came to me she announced that I was basically a very relaxed person who "looks after himself" whatever that means. Did she mean I keep myself in shape (which isn't true)? Or did she mean I am basically selfish (probably true but not great patter for a social occasion)?
Then she claimed to discover one point of tension in my right shoulder that was symbolic of some problem or worry. She kept kneading away at my shoulder and crying, "Let it out. Let it out." I tried to enter into the spirit of the moment and mentally "let it go", but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be letting go of.
I wonder what it can be?