On Sunday I raced with the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet for the first time in a couple of months. As expected, my performance was awful. I could think of a whole host of excuses for my dismal scores - most of which I have mentioned before on this blog - but I don't think I've told you yet about one of my issues (which was a factor on Sunday) - I am a little deaf.
Yes. I don't always hear so well these days. At times it can be a distinct advantage for it to be known that you don't always hear what folk are saying to you. At times you can even deliberately pretend not to hear what is being said. Sentences like, "Will you please stop playing with your computer and come and help me with this," are, for some reason, particularly hard for me to pick up.
It's never been too much of a handicap when racing my Laser. I can usually hear the starting sequence and pretty much all the other race committee signals are visual, right? No, not right! At least not in this fleet.
The race committee had set small orange buoys for the windward mark and the leeward gate. All was fine for the first race which was a simple windward leeward course. But for the second race they signalled a course "H" meaning we had to go Windward – Reach Mark – RC Boat (to starboard) – Leeward – Finish.
But wait. The RC hadn't dropped a reach mark yet. (At least, I couldn't see one.) The race officer was doing a lot of shouting and gesticulating but with the noise of the wind and the waves and all the sails flapping and my warm hat covering my ears and my (very slight) touch of deafness I couldn't quite pick up what he was saying. It's not unusual in this fleet to use one of the government marks in the harbor as a racing mark on occasion, but I didn't see any obvious candidate. I sailed closer to the committee boat.
The race officer was shouting something that sounded like, "Woof woof woof reach mark woof woof red woof woof woof know it's unusual woof woof woof." Hmmm.
They started sounding the horns for the 3-minute starting sequence. As I approached the line I saw one of the fleet captains nearby and shouted to him, "What's the course?"
He turned away from to me to look upwind and waved an arm in the general direction of the windward mark and said, "Woof woof woof windward woof woof woof red woof woof woof." Hmmm.
Now I was really confused. Were we going to use a government mark as the windward mark?
What the hell, I thought, I'll just follow everybody else, like I usually do.
There was a red nun buoy up the course, not as far upwind as the orange buoy we had used as the windward mark in the first race. So I kept all options open and didn't go above the layline to the red nun until I saw others doing so. Maybe the red nun was the reach mark? But it was in a weird spot for an H course.
Eventually I rounded the orange windward mark with the tailenders and said to one of my fellow duffers, "I have no idea where I am going!"
"If I knew where I was going, I wouldn't be here," he replied.
And that was pretty much the story for all my races in my Sunday. In every race, if I had known what I was doing I wouldn't have done what I did.
But it was fun.
And then home to Tillerwoman for a delicious dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
What's that you say dear? Yes, I will have more gravy, please.