What do you do when the downwind race is actually upwind?
That was the dilemma facing the race committee last Friday at the RS Aero US Nationals in the Columbia River Gorge.
Prior to the real regatta for the national championship at the weekend, Friday had been scheduled for a long downwind race - a shorter version of the famous Laser Gorge Blowout.
In the summer, the winds in the Gorge "always" blow from the west because there is cold, dense, marine air at the western end of the Gorge (Portland) and hot, dry, not-so-dense air out in the desert at the east end of the Gorge. Hot air rises. The desert sucks. Portland blows. And the walls of the Gorge focus all that airflow into a narrow slot. Result - west winds nuking up the river every day. Perfect for the Blowout.
But not on Friday. For some reason Portland was super-hot that day - not cold. At first there was no wind. We went into postponement and were warned that the downwind race almost certainly wouldn't happen. Then the wind filled in fairly strongly across the other side of the river from the EAST. The wrong way. It was decided to do one "practice" race for the regatta instead of the downwind race, but by the time we had all sailed out to the course and the east wind had filled in on both sides of the river, it was very light. Rather than hang around for the RC to be ready to start the race, I chose to sail the course for practice on my own, and headed back to the beach when I was done.
Oops - I see the photographer snapped me on the way in. (See top of post.)
Wait! Why is this post called "I Love RS Aero Sailors?"
Be patient dear reader. I love RS Aero sailors because of two things that happened on Friday that had nothing to do with the long-downwind-oops-only-joking race.
1. RS Aero Rides for Kids
There were a few families with kids hanging out on the beach where we stored our Aeros for the clinic and regatta. I guess when there is no regatta going on, they think of it as "their" beach. Anyway, the kids were interested in these cool looking boats on their beach and Marc Jacobi took the lead by offering to give one inquisitive little girl a ride on his boat (with permission from her mother of course.) Pretty soon, several other sailors were giving boat rides to the kids.
What a nice gesture! Who knows if these sailors inspired some of the kids to take up sailing as a sport. But they were certainly great ambassadors for sailing in general and the RS Aero class in particular. I love RS Aero sailors!
2, Speed Challenge vs Beer
The other event that was scheduled for Friday was an RS Aero Speed Challenge. This is where sailors take out an Aero with a Velocitek Speed Puck and blast around on the river with the objective of achieving the highest speed (averaged over a 10 second interval.)
By the time we were ready for the speed challenge, a light to moderate breeze had filled in from the west, but by no means strong enough to set any impressive speed records.
The regatta chairman polled all the sailors: "What do you want to do? Speed challenge or relax and drink beer?"
The result was unanimous. "Relax and drink beer" won the day.
I love RS Aero sailors. They are my kind of people.