At the Buzzards Bay Regatta last weekend, the vast majority of the other Laser sailors were "kids." Now I know I sometimes refer to anyone under 45 as a "kid." But at BBR they really were kids. Under 25. No, under 18 most of them.
I don't mind racing with kids. Some of them are fast. Some of them are not. Most of them are very polite and friendly and even respectful to an old geezer like me. Not that they give me any special breaks on the race course. Nor would I expect it.
In most races I didn't do very well on the first beat, but after that I was able to pass boats downwind and upwind all through the race. This often meant that on the final beat I would catch up with some kid or other and have to work out some way of passing him.
In one race on the first day, on the last beat of a race, I was sailing upwind on starboard tack, with another boat a few boat lengths to my right. A kid approached on port tack whom I thought could easily cross us so I shouted, "Cross!" and waved at him to cross us.
He elected to tack to leeward and ahead of me. Not exactly a close lee-bow but close enough to give me a bit of bad air.
I couldn't easily tack to clear my air because of the boat on my right, so I decided to focus even more on sailing fast and seeing if I could get ahead of the kid before the dirty air off his sails slowed me down and I would be shot out of the back.
For some reason I started to sing. I find it helps me to concentrate on sailing well.
"When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now"
I focused on hiking hard and working the boat through the waves, not allowing the waves to slow me down, and on sailing high without pinching. I wasn't singing very loud, you understand. If the kid heard me, he would have thought I was crazy.
"Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?"
I was getting my bow further ahead of the kid and out of his bad air, so I put the bow down for more speed. By the way, sometimes I think I'm singing under my breath but really I'm signing out loud.
"If I'd been out 'til quarter to three, would you lock the door?"
I was really gaining distance on him now. One boat length ahead at least....
"Will you still need me, will you still feed me"
Now he was in my bad air and he was really feeling it. Two boat lengths ahead.
"When I'm sixty-four?"
I may have sang that last line a bit louder.
The kid may have heard me.
He gave me a dirty look as he tacked away, wondering how that old geezer had just gained several boat lengths on him in about thirty seconds and what the hell he was singing.
OK, where's the next kid?