Sunday, November 06, 2005


My performance at the Laser regatta was very average. Looked like there were over 50 boats. Winds were moderate for the first couple of races but then got lighter. I had trouble getting clear air off the start line but once I could find a decent lane my boat speed seemed OK.

Mark roundings were crowded and one veteran sailor got ticked off when I didn't give him room at a leeward mark. He sailed across to me after the race and started complaining. I quietly and politely explained why I thought the facts of the case were in my favor and he drifted away. Still, it left me feeling uneasy that a respected fellow sailor thought I had been cheating.

At the start of the last race I was near the right end of the line because the wind seemed stronger on that side. But then there was a 30 degree shift to the left about a minute before the start. I started to work down towards the pin but didn't get very far. About three quarters of the fleet tacked on to port and crossed me. So I thought, "What the hell -- nothing to gain from tacking underneath them and going right -- let's bang the corner."

The wind was pretty light by then but I could see some more pressure further left. If the wind went further left I might pull off a big gain. A few other gamblers were with me but I was the last to tack on to port. The outgoing tide was lifting us above the layline so we cracked off slightly.

I arrived at the windward mark about midfleet so I had gained some boats by not following the herd. But the wind was dying so I opted to call it a day and head back to the club. I sailed above the windward mark and told my friend T, who was manning one of the race committee boats, that I was heading in.

He laughed as the continuous line of starboard tackers slowly progressed around the mark. "Hey look -- there's a gap -- go for it -- just behind B." B is one of the better sailors in the fleet -- not usually a winner, but usually ahead of me.

I rolled my eyes and said in my loudest and most sarcastic voice so even B could hear, "I don't want to be behind B." With plenty of emphatic derision focused on B's name. Geeze -- I can be such a jerk at times. I sailed on back to the club.

I was first to the hose to wash my boat.
Gave the rivets on my shiny new gooseneck a really good rinse. Don't want another disaster like last week.

Also first into the changing room to change into street clothes. Better than sharing the tiny room with 50 sweaty Laser sailors along with their wetsuits, drysuits, fleeces, sweatpants and smelly underwear.

D, who is one if the top Laser Master sailors in New England, had opted to come in just behind me. "I can sail in those conditions and I have done well in those conditions but I don't enjoy it," he said.

I kind of disagreed. "It's always fun if you're winning. If I had been in the top 10 at that mark I would have kept on racing."

When I got outside again another friend P was there but the rest of the fleet was still at sea. "Did you win by a mile or come in early too?" I asked. He smiled. "No -- I called it a day."

After putting the boat away I noticed another friend A still
in to the boat ramp. The wind by now was zero knots and he was standing on the foredeck, holding the mast and rocking the boat to propel it. Once he had hauled the boat up the ramp I went over and congratulated him as he had been ahead of me in every race that day.

"Yeah, but in that last race......." and he proceeded to tell me a tale of woe about how he had been at the starboard end of the line too but had gone right under pretty well the whole fleet. Judging by the time he hit the dock he must have been near last.

"So are you coming to Bermuda next year?" he asked. I knew he and a few others had sailed Lasers at an invitational regatta in Bermuda in April this year.

"No. What's the deal?"

"Send me an email and I'll send you the details and the invitation," he said.

It sounded like a fun idea. The Bermudians provide the boats -- and housing too if you want it. All we have to do is show up and race.

So the day ended on an optimistic note. I drove home into the sunset admiring the changing tableau of cream to peach to pink to salmon to apricot to crimson ahead of me. As the sky darkened, the view was dominated by the crescent moon with Venus hanging just above it. Crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge I could see a small sailboat with no lights and no engine drifting far below me in mid-river in the gloom.

I hoped he got home OK
as I dreamed of Spring sailing in Bermuda.

1 comment:

Carol Anne said...

Tillerman, I loved your description of the race events, and also of the sunset. Are you sure you're not a novelist in training? Maybe you don't do National Novel Writing Month this year, but I'd love to see you do it next year!

Post a Comment