I was in two minds whether or not to do the Newport Regatta last weekend. I kept checking the weather forecast all week. It changed every day but one thing did not change. The winds would be light on Saturday and Sunday. There would be a prevailing northerly and the wind might change to the south some time during the day and then again it might not. Sounded like the recipe for a frustrating regatta.
My wonderful wife finally lost patience with my procrastination. "You need practice in light air, don't you?" asked the Tillerwoman. "Just go. You will have a good time hanging out with your friends even if you can't sail all the time."
Isn't she brilliant? Of course she was right. Sailing in light winds presents its own challenges, and I certainly need practice in all kinds of conditions. And sailing is about the people you meet, the friends you make too.
So I registered for the regatta and drove my Laser down to Newport on Saturday.
The weather forecast was right. The winds were light. The sail out to the course area between Goat and Rose Islands was slow, but the good news was that I arrived in the start area only a few minutes before the announced time for the first warning signal, and the RC started racing bang on time.
We raced in a light northerly for a while.
Then in one race the wind switched from north to west to south during the race causing all kinds of havoc in the fleet order. You don't expect to have to beat to the leeward mark.
We raced in a light southerly.
The wind totally died during one race and it was eventually abandoned.
We waited around to see if the wind would fill in again, and eventually the northerly beat the attempts of the sea breeze to establish itself and we completed two more races making five for the day.
I hit a buoy in one race and took a penalty. I hit another boat in one race and took a penalty. There was tide and variable wind speeds and shifts and I never really figured it all out. I was in the top ten in one race and DFL in another.
It was hot and we spent about seven hours on the water in all. But I did drink lots of Gatorade and I didn't get cramp so that was good.
All in all a very frustrating day.
But it was also fun in some strange, masochistic way. How did Tillerwoman know that it would be? She doesn't even sail.