Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010



David, the way I heard it, moments before you surrendered the helm, you commented on what a wonderful day it was. And, that it was. Steve Sheaffer's description of last Sunday's race indicated that "The race seemed to be routine aboard Sea Note" and that "It was a Sea Note type of day."

Such was your ability to reduce chaos to a minimum that I am sure it was. However, two other skippers have told me that those gusty conditions presented them with the most challenging sailing they had ever experienced.

Many have commented that it was right that you passed on when you were doing something you were passionate about. But, I'm wondering, what that could have excluded? You exhibited unbridled passion, enthusiasm and expertise in a whole lot of activities in addition to sailing: mentoring students or ex-students, playing banjo in your Dixieland band, presiding over meetings of contentious yachtsmen, photography - all in addition to being a GR8 family man.

You once told me that you were "all about building and nurturing community". Did I leave out that you were an adroit expert in the art of understatement?
David and I often swapped photos of each other's boats taken while we were racing. My favorite picture of Psyché's Song is one he took. This is my favorite shot of Sea Note during the Charity Regatta, Sept 9th, 2007.

I cannot overstate how much I will miss you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Beautiful Day for Sailing . . .

Ended up as successful race, but it was not pretty!

The Fall Series #4 was ours to lose. We had two bullets and a 7th place. But a well-sailed 27-footer was in contention. Sunday's race shaped up as our throw-out. We had to sail and do what we could to keep our adversary from finishing above 7th place.

This conservative game plan flew out the window as soon as I got caught up in the excitement of the start. This was a long-ish race at 11 miles. Instead of looking for an uncontested space of free air anywhere along the line, I had to go for the starboard pin. Of course I found myself forced over early by a Beneteau-40. Exactly what I deserved for my stupidity.

The Good Guys nevertheless fought their way up the first leg, avoiding the adverse current and risking kelp in by the beach. We rounded in the middle of the fleet, ahead of the 27-footer, who heated up by going high. But the problem is always whoever goes high must eventually come down!  

We ditched two or three pursuers with a deft rounding of the oil platform and headed back up to finish.

There our prospects dimmed in the falling breeze. A Sabre-36 which I had held off the year previous, fell off and footed past me, ultimately correcting out to first place. Skipper said he had a crack sail-trimmer aboard; I say the light winds are what sank our prospects (and I'm sticking to that).

We corrected out in the middle of the fleet, one place below the 27-footer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday School

Helmed a Ocean-20 in a 6-plus mile course, in 12 knots, today. I'm told there were six boats on the line. We took 3rd place, because of my bad start. In the end game, we were literally inches out of 2nd. catching and passing a boat on the last leg. We were rail-to-rail at the finish but he was 9 inches ahead. Great fun! Learned a lot! Went back to school on tell-tales. Level racing forces sailors to focus on all variables at details at once. Very intense! Much more fun than being in 3rd place in Rotisserie Futbol by a long way!! The joys of non-handicapped, level racing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saturday School

What did I learn from five hours of 12-15 knots in a Harbor-20 Ocean-20?

Two or three things.

First it looked stupid, but going to weather in those conditions, it pays to have a person sitting behing the helmsman. The bow of the H-20 is so narrow, it lacks the buoyancy one might expect; so it pays to get weight of the 3rd person aft to lift the bow. That person has to be agile enough to step over or duck under the tiller on the tacks. Otherwise, your pointing and/or footing performance is not maximized. I have seen this curious line-up in photos, [click on the photo to the right] but didn't make the connection until a friend rubbed my nose in my own stupidity.

The second lesson is don't be so quick to fly a chute in those conditions. Running DDW, wing and wing might be the right thing to do instead of gybing down wind. On an unfamiliar symetrical course the best idea would have been to weigh the spinnaker option after rounding the weather mark and checking out the course.

Third lesson is endurance: I can make it for five hours in 20 feet of fiberglass, but that's about my limit. I didn't learn that until we were back in our slip: I had to crawl out onto the dock. I'm not exaggerating.

I paid for the above lessons. In each of the three one-design races, the Good Guys beat some boats; but not enough. We finished DFL out of eight boats.

But on Sunday, on my own 'proper' yacht, this ol' man did a lot better in handicapped racing. But that's a small consolation: level racing always trumps the best handicapping system. Always and forever. True consolation would be to get another shot at the O-20's soon!