Home on Monday after the first annual John Bentley Regatta at New Bedford Yacht Club this weekend. Sitting in an arm chair in the AC (it's 89 degrees outside) sipping a glass of wine and reflecting on the last two days.
What happened? Well let me tell you, Magic stuff happened! I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a regatta so much.
But my memory is already fading and I can't remember all the details. How do people write those regatta recaps where they recall every start and every leg and every mark rounding and every incident in every race? But I do remember it was all good.
This regatta, then known as the Saltmarsh Trophy, used to be run out of New Bedford Community Boating Center by one of the most loved Laser sailors on the scene, John Bentley, who sadly died way too young in December last year. Long time readers of this blog will know him as That Guy.
It was always one of my favorite regattas. It had just the right combination of informality and professionalism if you know what I mean. Things done properly while still in a spirit of fun. Not at all stuffy or bureaucratic. Races run properly and on time, and then hanging out with good friends over pizza and a few beers. Usually around 20-30 boats which is a big enough fleet for some fun racing without the hassle of trying to deal with all the logistics of car parking and boat park overcrowding and launching mayhem and ridiculously long start lines not to mention mommy boats etc. etc. which you get at those 100+ boat regattas.
Anyway the regatta got moved to New Bedford YC and renamed in John's honor, but they have done a damn fine job of preserving the spirit and style of the regatta that made it so special.
Saturday was kind of screwy. The wind started of in the west at about 12-15 knots, then went down a lot for the second race, shifted way left just before the start of the third race, and then came back at a solid 15 knots for the final race. Towards the end of the day I was getting some cramps in my arms; need to get back to the weights. I didn't feel I was sailing particularly well, but then if I was perfect all the time, I would win everything and that would be disastrous.
The last race had an upwind finish at a spot that set us up for a screaming, planing reach back to the Padanaram breakwater, the yacht club and.... free beer. I remembered an exactly similar situation racing at some regatta here with John Bentley a few years ago. Like most folk I imagine, after a hard day of racing I just slacken off and sail back to the club at about 75% of effort. John had finished the race a few places in front of me (like he always did, the old bastard) and I was looking forward to a leisurely sail and a chat on the way in. But John had a different idea. He sheeted in and hiked out and sailed that reach at 110% effort. He was 100 yards ahead of me before I realized what was going on. He may not have won the real race but he was going to beat me in the race to the beer.
So on Saturday I sailed that reach the way John would have done. It was the least I could do.
Sunday was a magical day. Perfect Buzzards Bay sea breeze weather. 15-18 knots from the SW. Waves you could surf for ever. I was in some kind of zone where I just wasn't getting tired. Must have been the adrenaline I guess. Definitely sailing better and getting better finishes. I don't remember a day I had more fun racing.
The awards ceremony got a bit emotional with several folk talking about their memories of John. His best friend Mark Bear told of how they had arranged a memorial for John back in February, but that John was never much one for ceremony so, from wherever he is now, he had given them the middle finger and arranged for Superstorm Nemo that weekend and they had had to blow off the event. This regatta was kind of the alternative to the memorial and John had fixed the weather for us again.
Not a dry eye in the house.
Final thoughts: Never too old, going to lose some weight, going to work a little harder on my fitness.
But then I alway say that.
More thoughts on what I learned in another post.