"When the wind gods don’t cooperate"
“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” It’s a wonderful quote by comedian Gilda Radner which so fittingly describes our world of competitive sailing and our most recent racing on Canandaigua Lake in New York for the J Daze Regatta, May 3rd, 4th and 5th.
We were anxious to get in some practice runs Friday. We waited out threatening thunderstorms and started rigging our boat. Right off we ran into trouble we had never experienced. While raising the mast from horizontal to vertical the halyard on the gin pole twisted and froze the mast in midair. Fellow racers helped us muscle it back into place and we set sail with three sailors from world champion Carter White’s crew. They gave us invaluable advice about positioning our boat at a crowded starting line and crossing in full boat speed. We practiced start after start.
We have learned that great racing is the foundation for a great regatta, but when the wind gods don’t cooperate, you make the best of it, not knowing what’s next.
Saturday, we started the first race in the early afternoon. The breeze was solid and shifty.
The upwind leg of the course was challenging but we made up time downwind and caught up with a pack of boats to port that crossed the finish line just a few seconds ahead of us. We came in sixteenth in the field of twenty-eight.
In the second race we finished seventh. We were challenged by light and unpredictable winds and able to fine tune our creative maneuvers and strategies to keep our boat moving forward and pointed in the right direction. Avoiding other boats in light wind conditions is an art.
There was barely a breath of wind for our third race. We were continually searching for puffs of wind to move us along. The crew’s strategy was to stay low in the boat on hands and knees and be ready to shift weight when we caught a breeze. We kept our voices low so nearby boats wouldn’t hear us discussing our tactics.
Sunday the race committee ended the regatta because of lack of wind. We were lucky to have completed three races Saturday because racing rules mandate that for any event to be classified as a regatta you must finish at least three races. Overall, we finished in tenth place. The nine crews that finished ahead of us are also competitive and accomplished sailors, so we were in good company.
JDaze got us ready for our next competition - the Lady Liberty Regatta which brings together 13 champion amateur women’s sailing teams from all over North America. The Manhattan Yacht Club in Jersey City is relaunching this great race in front of the world’s famous great lady - the Statute of Liberty, June 7-9. We will race J/24s supplied by the Club and we bring our own spinnaker. There will be practice sailing in the Harbor Friday, Races 1,2,3 are Saturday and Races 4, 5, 6 are Sunday. We are going out to win this regatta!
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Thanks for following along.