I used to enjoy watching Aaron Brown when he anchored the 10 0'clock nightly news show on CNN. His style was often described as "cerebral" and "news for grown-ups." He was born the same year as me so I guess it's no coincidence that his particular approach to news-anchor-ship appealed to me and others of my generation.
He would close each broadcast by telling us the "weather word" that was on the front page of the next day's Chicago Sun-Times. This was always a decidedly un-weather-like word or phrase such as "sassy" or "creamy" or "pitcher perfect" (the latter phrase when the White Sox were in the World Series.) I looked forward every day to hearing the weather word from Aaron before I went to bed.
But after a few years, the bosses at CNN, presumably deciding that they needed to appeal to a younger demographic, pushed Aaron aside to make way for that kid who is Gloria Vandebilt's son, the one who is always running off to war zones to strut around in a child-size white T-shirt on camera. His name escapes me right now.
Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes, this is supposed to be a sailing blog.
Yesterday I went off to Newport for another afternoon of solo practice. I was thinking of Aaron Brown because I wanted to choose one word to describe the wind yesterday...
It was around 10-15 knots gusting to 20, I guess, but it was blowing from the south, off the shore of Brenton Cove, so it was all chopped-up and gusty and shifty. It seemed that you couldn't sail for more than a few seconds upwind, before the wind dramatically changed its direction or speed or both. Chunky!
I'm not very good at dealing with such conditions. I try and anticipate the gusts but I guess my reactions are too slow and I always seem to get messed up with every change in the wind before I can ease or sheet in or hike or unhike or head up or bear off or several of the above. But I guess that's why you practice? No point in practicing what you already do well. Need to practice what you have difficulty with. Right?
Offwind was a totally different story. I enjoyed wild planing reaches, zig-zagging across the width of the harbor, gybing around a convenient mooring buoy at the end of each reach - and I didn't capsize even once. The spray was flying in my face which is quite salty and refreshing when the water temperature is still in the 40s.
So I practiced some of the stuff I have blogged about in the past few days. I tried to sail on my feet downwind like Kurt explained to us in Clearwater, and to look around when sailing upwind like Julio, and to tack like Andrew... but I'm sure I didn't look at all like Andrew in that photo... and to go fast on the reaches... well like Tillerman on the second day in Clearwater. Hey, it's good to enjoy doing something well too, once in a while.
It felt good to be out on the water in March.
But I still miss Aaron Brown.