Sailors can loosely be categorized as cruisers or racers. I’ve always considered myself as the former. Growing up as an only child, I didn’t have siblings to compete with, so I’ve never been very competitive. Oh, I’ve dabbled with racing a bit. I unsuccessfully raced a 16-foot MC Scow on a small suburban lake in Missouri, always finishing last. I entered an overnight offshore race from Galveston to Port Aransas TX. The wind died and we had to motor the last half. I crewed for friends on a Corps of Engineer’s lake in Kansas and did fairly well. We came in second on a J24 and first on a Lightening.
When we moved to Florida, I joined the St. Lucie Sailing Club that sponsors races on the river and the ocean. I’ve tried a few times but always struggled to finish better than last. I’m excited that our newest captain, Craig, has extensive racing experience so I asked him to crew on the race yesterday. We had a great time and were competitive.
Most traditional races start with sails up and boats darting about behind a line between a buoy and a committee boat competing for a favored place. After a 5-minute countdown, boats can cross the line and head out around several prearranged marks on the course. This one began with all boats anchored and the sails down. Without the motor to help orient the boat into the wind while raising the mainsail, it was challenging. We were heading directly to the committee boat (which I hit two years ago when the lazy jacks caught on the solar panels making it impossible to steer away from it) and we missed it this time by at least a foot or two. Craig kept yelling “Start the Engine”, but we made it without help. My nickname is “Captain Crunch”!
We had trouble with the first couple of tacks, but we finally got the hang of it. We were next to last rounding the first mark but slowly caught the next 3 boats by the third turn. On the way back to the next to last mark, we caught and passed the second-place boat and held on to finish second overall. Due to our handicap, we finished fourth in the fleet of six boats. Not last, at least.