The popularity of Tuesday night Laser racing in Bristol Harbor is based on a myth. The myth is that, just like in Lake Wobegon, on Tuesday nights in Bristol all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and the winds are always above average.
Well, I'm not going to argue with the first two claims... but I do have reason to question the last one. Those who are supposedly in the know have been telling me that every Tuesday night last year it blew like stink, blew dogs off chains, blew koalas off trees... (insert own favorite metaphor for 40 knot winds here).
I suppose it may have been true last year, but it wasn't true yesterday. It was the hottest day of the year (so far). My lawn was visibly turning brown as I looked at it. Windsurfers were putting ice cream in their hair to stay cool. Kayakers were fantasizing about something called "cold". It was bloody hot.
So I went sailing.
As usual, I was first to arrive at the beach and was ready to launch before all the poor sods that have to work for a living showed up. So I went out on my own and played around in about 5-8 knots from the south. I'm pretty sure that the informal SIs say we meet outside the the moorings at 5:30pm but at that time I was still the only one out there.
By about 6:00 pm, the wind had swung round to the SE which was not a good sign, and 7 or 8 other refugees from the air-conditioning had joined me. I volunteered to be the rabbit for the first race to get things moving along. I was called back twice because the other weren't ready (they said) but eventually we were racing and I came third in the first race.
We race windward leeward courses with the finish being a rounding of the leeward mark as if starting another beat. One of the things I am gradually getting wise to (I'm a bit slow on the uptake on such matters) is that the good guys in this fleet are very aggressive at that finish/ leeward mark. My attitude in the first few weeks was kind of, "Ho hum, if I happen to be outside at the finish mark it's no big deal." But the talent treat it just like a real leeward mark and tend to pull off one of those last minute tricky tactical moves to secure the inside position. It's good practice for the real thing after all. So on that first race I did the same and surprised the sailor inside me by gybing, heading up fast across his transom, and securing an inside overlap just as we entered the zone. Woo hoo.
Then things went pear shaped.
I was feeling lazy in the heat and made a poor start in the second race. Rounded the first mark somewhere in the middle of the fleet but then got all discombobulated on the run, chasing all over the course for reasons I totally forget, and sailing into a hole, and then aiming for the wrong mark... and... and... to cut a long story short I was dead last. It was the heat. Must have been.
And the wind had died. Less than 2 knots. Totally crapped out.
I was kind of hanging out waiting for wind, when I noticed everyone else sailing off towards the shore, almost as if they were racing. Had they started a third race while I was asleep? I never did find out but I did get some excellent light air practice trying to catch them and succeeded in passing a couple of boats.
The wind never improved.
We "sailed" back to the beach. I did win that race. Beer is a great motivator.
Then off for burgers and beer at the upstairs outside deck at Aidan's Pub.
The conversation ranged far and wide over such topics as the foibles of all the other sailors who didn't show up this week (fair game after all), the relative merits of Aidan's and the other restaurant we frequent, why soccer and cycling make good TV and sailing doesn't, and the big question of the evening....
"Did Lance do drugs?"
I was surprised to discover that almost all the members of the party except me had strong (and conflicting) views on the "Did Lance do drugs?" matter based on, as far as I could see, almost no evidence whatsoever. I felt like I had stumbled into a religious debate.
Anyway, the myth is busted, I still have no idea whether Lance did drugs, and there is no doubt that Aidan's Pub makes great burgers.
And so to bed.