Wednesday, September 16, 2015

66th Annual Massapoag Yacht Club Regatta - Day 1

The winds were light. The fleet was small. But the enthusiasm was high and the competition was intense in the RS Aero fleet at the Massapoag Yacht Club 66th Annual Regatta last weekend.

“Massapaog” is an Algonquin word meaning “large water with crazy swirling winds where I waited for you in the rain and we ate lobsters and ice cream and drank cold beer.”  Really.

Totally gratuitous photo of pretty girl waiting in the rain

As well as the 5 RS Aeros, this popular and friendly multi-class regatta also included fleets of 9 Lasers, 20 Sunfish, 13 Flying Scots and 4 Day Sailers, so it was a perfect opportunity to showcase the RS Aero to 63 sailors who had not yet realized that they really needed to buy an RS Aero.

The club had imported a crack PRO to run the races, and at the skippers’ meeting on Saturday morning, he made it clear that he welcomed input from the sailors and asked for our thoughts on everything from what minimum wind speed we would like to race in, to what courses we would prefer. We even took a vote on how many penalty turns we wanted to do if we broke one of those pesky rules. After a confusing and impassioned debate about different options for “in the zone” or “out of the zone,” and for collisions or “not collisions,” and for “it really wasn’t my fault I didn’t mean to hit you,”  the motion for “keep it simple, one turn for everything” was passed by a large majority. It was just as well that we had a lengthy and entertaining skippers’ meeting because there was no wind on the lake and it helped to pass the time.

Impassioned debate about one turn vs two turns.
Federalists were for a national bank, being nice to Brits, and two turns. 
Democratic-Republicans were for states' rights and two turns only in the zone.

An apology was relayed by the regatta chairperson from one of the top Sunfish sailors who couldn’t make the regatta because he had a “plumbing problem.” We all wished that the solution to his problem wouldn’t be too painful and that he would make a speedy recovery.

After the skippers’ meeting there was still no wind on the lake so we settled into a morning of chatting with the other sailors, catching up with old friends, and making new friends - which is of course the main reason we go to regattas on inland lakes anyway. 

After one of the most severe winters in living memory in New England it was natural that the conversation would touch on the blizzard of the century, the record snow fall, the boats crushed under the snow, how late the last bit of snow melted etc. etc. Unfortunately one of the Laser sailors came from New Hampshire. (For the geographically challenged that is north of Massachusetts and goes all the way to Canada.) So the guy from New Hampshire could trump any snow story we wimps from the deep south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts could plausibly invent. 

 Worst day of winter according to guy from Massachusetts

Average winter day according to guy from New Hampshire

Meanwhile my charming and persuasive son (who has been sailing an RS Aero for all of 3 weeks) was explaining to many of the 63 sailors unlucky enough not to own an RS Aero why they really needed to buy one right now.

Around 11am the wind on the lake picked up a little. The RC took to the water. Most of the sailors took to the water. A few of the most cynical sailors (including me) stayed on land. The wind died. All the sailors came back to shore. Cynicism ruled.

Lunch was served.

After lunch there was still no wind.

About 2pm a few sailors launched and drifted around the lake. I decided to join them in my RS Aero, mainly because I was getting tired of being out-played at the game of “my snow was deeper than your snow” by the guy from New Hampshire. Some Sunfish sailors decided to have an informal race around some blue and yellow object on the opposite shore. 

Apparently while I was drifting around, the PRO and the sailors at the club took a vote on whether (a) to go racing anyway even though there was no wind and (b) to delay the lobster and ice cream dinner if necessary. Both motions passed because, by some quirk in the the American voting system, it was ruled that all the sailors drifting around aimlessly on the lake were actually voting in favor of both motions. Huh?

American voting system

So everyone (except for the usual cynics) launched and drifted around the lake for another hour or two in what was obviously not enough wind to go racing. I told anyone within earshot that the mere fact that I had been drifting around in 0-1 knots in my RS Aero did NOT mean that I would have voted to race in those conditions (let alone delay my dinner.)  

All the Sunfish sailors who had raced to the blue and yellow object on the far shore seemed to be staying there. Those of us still “sailing” surmised that the blue and yellow object must be a hot tub and that the Sunfish sailors were frolicking in the hot tub in the nude. How else could be the Sunfish class still be so popular?

Photo of naked Sunfish sailors frolicking in a blue and yellow hot tub
What the ...? 
Google censored it?

Then magically, it happened. Just out of nowhere, about 4 o’clock, the wind picked up to about 8-10 mph from the east and we were racing. Glory be to Gitchi Manitou! (That’s Algonquin for yee-how!)

Gitchi Manitou and some other god

The race committee signaled for a Gold Cup course (triangle-windward-leeward-downwind finish) and we were off and racing. Yee-how!

The star of Saturday’s racing in the RS Aero fleet was definitely "Bob," who won the first race and was second in the second race. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.) 

"Bob" is the coach for the high school sailing team who train on Lake Massapaog, and he lives in a house on the lake. He has been a member of Massapoag YC since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (or thereabouts.) Put it all together and "Bob" knows the foibles and intricacies of the winds on this lake better than almost anyone else on the planet. Plus he is about 50lbs lighter than fat boys like me so I had definitely picked him as “most likely to succeed” in a light air regatta at MYC.  

"Bob" is 5th from the left in the back row

At the end of the day "Bob" was leading the RS Aero fleet with 3 points, closely followed by the other two members of the Boston Aero fleet, Email Dude on 4 points, and Tillerman (me) on 5 points.  At the end of the day I was just hoping I could hang on to third place.

Hanging on by my fingernails to third place

After hitting the beach we went straight to the cocktail party, where everyone told totally unbelievable stories about the day’s racing and enjoyed the delicious range of hors d’ouevres served by the club. Most of the ladies had dressed up for the evening festivities and I hardly recognized some of them with their clothes on. And then the dinner was served with lobster and ice cream and all sorts of other good eats and we all drank way too much and talked way too much and knew we would have a hangover in the morning.

Here endeth the first day. Glory be to Gitchi Manitou!  


bonnie said...

Best race report which barely discussed sailing I've ever read.

Tillerman said...

Thanks bonnie.

Bigdog said...

I'm jealous, Florida has the same lack of breeze but not as much fun

Tillerman said...

Hey, Bigdog, Florida ain't so bad. I've had lots of fun at regattas there while not actually sailing too.

Buff Staysail said...

If it were to rain for 43 days, would we get a picture of a mermaid?

Tillerman said...

Buff please try and keep up. I already did a mermaid post .

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