As much as I love sailing, racing, and buoy racing in particular, has always intimidated me, especially the starts! I think it is a combination of PTSD from so many intense starts and races with my super confident and competitive (read: proficiently aggressive) Dad at the helm, and a lack of confidence with tactics. Longer races are so different, and even in those, I am mainly flying by the seat of my pants (and as I told the race committee who wanted to place me in the more experienced class….being a big chicken at starts and following people over the line). That is slowly changing though, and being a skipper for the first time in the Sunset Series last night is already helping to build my confidence!
As I mentioned in my last post, the decision to race came to me in a moment, and within a week I had assembled a wonderful crew of women. Our experience and personalities run the gamut, and after being on the boat together yesterday, I can see that we are going to make a great team! There is already an air of supporting each other to grow not only as sailors, but in our personal lives. A personal example for me is in the seemingly never ending challenge of trusting myself and what I know (not down playing my skills and playing small). I can already tell that these women are going to gently yet strongly help me past this life-long challenge.
We headed to the start with a lot of time to spare, practicing our tacks and jibes, with our faithful Robin (now dubbed bow rider) on the bow calling traffic and such. Lara and I got into our groove with communication and timing, while the rest of the crew got up to speed with their jobs. Lara is so calm and confident, and helps me to stay centered. She was on top of the timing and guided me expertly towards our start! Carrie and Gabi developed a seamless operation in handling the genoa sheets with my undersized (and underpowered) winches. Carrie was on the main trim like nobody’s business. I teased her that I could see the fire in her eyes the minute we started sailing. She hasn’t sailed in many years, but let me assure you that nothing has been lost. The woman is amazing and her contributions to tactics and sail trim are invaluable…not to mention her humor and fierce competitive spirit!
We were in the last class to start (cruising B, non-spinnaker), so we had the benefit of being able to clearly tell who was in our class and where they were on the line. We pulled a risky maneuver and started on a port tack at the pin. If we had had more wind, it would have worked better, but as it was, we were a bit slow. As a result we weren't able to cross the boat on the line closest to us and therefore had to tack away because they had rights (they were on a starboard tack). This ended up being ok though, because we were able to pull away from them and push them up a bit to get moving on our way to the mark. We had a short course, and did fine heading up to our weather mark.
My only regret is that we didn’t motivate to use our whisker pole on our way downwind. We haven’t had time to practice with it, and my pole is a bit messed up. The last time I used it was in the middle of the Pacific, and on a different boat, and it has some battle scars.
We placed 4th out of 11 boats in our class, and I am so excited about that!! Not too shabby for our 1st race! No matter the outcome, we had a great 1st race, celebrated by a big enthusiastic toast at the end of it. I, for one was celebrating our amazing crew, and a job well done! I am so very grateful for this opportunity, and to be able to sail and grow alongside these strong and talented women! The thing that I am the happiest about, is that we truly are a team. We are there to support each other in very way and the energy between us is one of real respect and support. There was no yelling or criticism, which for me is a welcome bit of fresh air. I am very excited to see what this season brings! I imagine growth and friendship will be at the top of the list!
photos by bow rider (aka: Robin Mohilner)