Jun. 20th, 2010

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Class started out with lots of review and a bit about foul weather gear. What makes good sailing gear for sailing in the cooler months. Also a few pointers for summer time sailing. A review of the different sorts of boats and how you should think about what you want to do on the water. If you want to race a family cruiser isn't going to make you happy, and if you want comfort and useable below space stay away from the racers. A bit about how the different types handle differently. After that we went into talking about racing. How the races are started, how we run the race. We took a short break and then Mike assigned us to our skippers.

I sailed on Adagio, a 30 foot Catalina skippered by her owner Scott. Scott said that we were up for an adventure because while he has raced before it has always been as crew on other peoples boats. 30 foot Catalinas aren't known for being fast, but the race coordinators have taken all that into consideration with a handicap system. As Adagio means slow, stately, gracefully he said we weren't going to cross the line first. Racing is something else. You have a whole lot of boats in a very small area all milling around avoiding each other until we are given the go signal. When that happens everyone turns toward the 'gate' formed by the race boat and a buoy. In order to know the race you sail by the race boat before the race starts and they have it on a big whiteboard they hold for you to read. The instructions basically tell us which direction from the gate the buoys are and where we expect to go for to find the next one.

We had 3 students and Scott on his boat which actually made for a LOT of work. As it's a bigger boat the mainsail is worked a bit differently, we set the main sheet and basically set the sail with the traveler. I hoisted the main sail and then the girl I had on my crew yesterday fed the line to the furler while I pulled out the jib. Our third student was manning the helm. Now it seems that the three of us really only have a skillset based on the 4 days of sailing class. Some of us were a bit quicker on the uptake than others. This leeds to mistakes. We had a total of 3 accidental jibes today during the race and just before. Accidental jibes are dangerous in that the boom swings from one extreme to the other. It gathers a lot of speed and hence force. Scott and I were the only two that were in the range of the sweep but managed to see it coming and call it out quick enough that we all made sure to stay below it. The good thing is that we didn't break the boat, nor did we sweep anyone into the water. I'll say that I was the only student to not accidently jibe the main today, though I almost did once, so we had nearly 4. The reason why we were having problems was because we had all came over from tiller boats to a boat with a wheel . So every time we needed to fall off the wind we would turn the wrong way on the wheel as a wheel and a tiller work in opposite directions. The other reason was initiation of the new helmspeople.

At least we didn't have much in the way of squeeling on the race today. Though when I managed to blow holding a course on my leg and we had to do another tack to get enough room and space to turn the buoy you could hear the crew of the boat behind us laugh as they overtook us. Yes, we were THAT close. There is a LOT of remembering who has the right of way in sail racing. You can't just try to dive in front of someone and take their wind around a corner necessarily. There are right of way rules to be followed and even then it's really something to be jockeying around that close to other boats and trying to gain an advantage and trying to not slide against someone else. As students our race was pretty open, a lot more room between us all than you see in the more serious races.

After the race we furled the jib and set the traveler on the main to make it easy to do simple tacking back and forth and my crew member from yesterday got to finish up from the end of the race to tacking back and forth working us back towards the marina. Sailing can be as active, or passive as you want it to be to an extent. At least on a bit larger boat. It reminded me of sailing with Len in his Hunter. We put away the jib and just sailed on the main, we had to sheet it in and out more than we did on the big Catalina but that's just the difference in how the boats are rigged. I see why folks say that racing will hone your sailing skills. But I'm also glad that the race is behind us now. It'll take some work to get comfortable with the idea of sailing in a race, especially a serous race.

Back nearly into the marina and Scott started the engine. We dropped and flaked the mainsail on the boom. He brought us in and backed into his slip like the old hand he is with his boat while I stood on the foredeck with a boathook to snag the side of the dock he'd asked me to to help hold us in nicely as he got off the boat, put on the spring lines on the stern of the boat then walked forward and handed/tossed me over the spring lines for the bow for port and starboard. All in all there were some really good things learned today.

We ended up in 12th place out of a field of 15 boats. Not bad, all things considered. We all had a lot of fun and now everyone has their completion certificates from the sailing seminar. So much more to learn, but I have some new friends and new opportunities to sail. I'm sure that there will be many more 'lessons' to learn.

It'll be great when I am comfortable enough to take one of the 22 foot club Catalinas out on my own.


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September 2010

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