What a superb day it was for sailing on Sunday!
I hadn't sailed with the Newport frostbite fleet at all in the last couple of winters. I can't really remember why not. Maybe it gets cold in the winters around here?
Anyway I was already enthusiastic about doing some Laser frostbite racing this winter even before Sunday's racing. I think maybe all the RS Aero sailing I have been doing this summer has made me nostalgic for the Laser scene. Whatever the reason, I signed up with Fleet 413, paid my dues and towed the Laser down to Fort Adams in Newport on Sunday morning.
It was good to meet up with some of my Laser sailing friends that I hadn't seen for a couple of years. Most of them recognized me even with the beard I grew last winter.
There were 44 Lasers on the line so, as per usual for this fleet, the starts were crowded and competitive as were most of the mark roundings and there were plenty of boat to boat interactions around the course. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood and there was none of the bad-tempered shouting and cursing that you sometimes experience in big fleets on small courses.
I was feeling pretty mellow myself and whenever a port tacker crossed me when they shouldn't have, I decided to be "very British" about it and just signify my awareness of their infringement with a slight clearing of the throat or sometimes a non-confrontational "Ahem!" I was quite enjoying this game.
I finished in the mid 20s in the first race which I was quite happy with, having not done any Laser racing in a fleet this competitive for quite a while.
In the second race, I was approaching the windward mark on the starboard tack layline when a very nice lady on port tack crossed a boat to leeward of me, tried to cross me but instead rammed my boat and pushed me head to wind. This did make me a little bit upset so I did let loose a plaintive bleat of "Oh really?" By the time I got out of irons I was in second to last place and the very nice lady was in last as somehow she managed to capsize while doing her penalty turn. But I did manage to pass a few boats on the next two legs to score a finish in the mid 30s and the very nice lady did apologize to me after the racing and we had a very nice chat while we were hosing off our boats so that was all very nice.
In the third race I did everything wrong. The wind went left just before the start but I started at the unfavored boat end of the line. The left side of the course was favored all day but I tacked immediately and went over to the right side of the course. All the sailing books say you should never sail to the layline too early but I went all the way to the right of the course and banged the corner.
I think that's a picture of me in this race at the top of the post.
So, having done everything wrong, I arrived at the windward mark in the lead - well actually simultaneously with the leading boat coming from the left side of the course. I guess sailing the whole windward leg in clear air and only doing one tack may have had something to do with it.
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
It was very educational sailing with the best sailors in the fleet down the run and watching what they did to sail faster than me down the run and leave me in their wake. I think I ended up 5th in that race which is totally absolutely awesome for me in this fleet, so that was very nice too.
I was on such a high after that race that the next two races are a bit of a blur in my memory now. I see I scored another mid 20s finish and another mid 30s finish (without benefit of the excuse of being rammed by a very nice lady) and ended up with a final score for the day about in the middle of the fleet.
So, all in all, it was a very good day and I can't wait for next Sunday. To add to the awesomeness of this awesome day, one of the other sailors whom I hadn't seen for a while told me that my beard makes me look younger.
Wow! Bang a gong!
Thank you to my sponsor for my 56th sailing day of 2015, Hubcap Diamond Star Halo who are celebrating 44 years of serving the hubcap diamond star halo community.