From the starting line located approx. 1.0NM at 164°M from the south end of the MdR detached breakwater, pass El Segundo buoy "ES2" to port, round Ship Rock to port and proceed to the finish. The finish line will be delimited by 2 GPS waypoints. The starboard end of the line is located at 33°44.480N, 118°26.474W. The port end of the line is located at 33°44.482N 118°27.124W. The line runs at 078°M from Pt Vicente Light. If a GPS can not be used, finish when the Point Vicente Light (at position 33°44.500N, 118°24.638W) is within 1.5NM but NO further than 2NM and bears 078°M from the helmsman's position. The skipper shall take his (or HER :-) ) own finish time. Handicap distance 46NM.
Boat preparations permitting ( my NKE Autopilot and/or new Hydrovane installed, and battery issues resolved), I have committed to myself to do all of the PSSA winter races. The first was this past Saturday, and it was a great shakedown race. We had one of our best turn-outs in a long time (and the best ever in my history with PSSA), with 22 boats at the starting line. We have many new members, and they were well represented in this race, which to me, is very exciting and promising! There were 13 double-handed boats, and 9 single-handed, of which I was one. We were all worried about the wind forecast, but the day proved to be consistent even if it was mostly light.
Charles Calkins' Class 40 was the rabbit boat, with Jerome Sammarcelli as crew. Once they started the race, they hoisted a full set of sails and promptly left us all in the dust. We saw very light wind for most of the day, and most boats had their asymmetrical spinnakers flying. I panicked when I saw this, realizing that I had forgotten mine in my storage locker. My trusty 140% genoa turned out to do the trick though, as I was able to hold my own in the light air. I am always amazed at how Cassiopeia scoots her 15,000 pound self along in such light air. She really blows me away.
It felt so good to be out on the water again, and to be alone on my boat. I love my crew and my friend, but being alone out there evokes something that cannot occur when others are with me. A sense of peace, autonomy and confidence sets in that I find nowhere else in my life. My favorite part of the day was approaching Ship Rock at dusk with a full moon rising. I was chasing my friend, Bill Ziel on Aloha, as I had been most of the day. He peeled out once around the rock, and as I came around, Rod Percival on Rubicon III ghosted in beside me, as only he can do. Once I rounded the rock, the wind came up for awhile, providing one of the most magical evenings of sailing I have had in a long time. Cassiopeia was in her element, reaching along at 7 knots as the sky grew dark and the full moon illuminated our course. At one point, I heard a breathing sound in the dark, and realized that my boat was surrounded by dolphins. They were playing in my bow wake and leaping about on all sides of me. They cruised with me for at least 5 minutes which added to an already mind-blowing scene.
The wind started to lighten up considerably about half way to the finish. Rod was on my tail, and I knew this could mean only one thing....that he would be passing me soon. Sure enough, about 2 miles from the finish, in true Rod fashion, he passed me in 3 knots of wind like it was nothing. I chased him to the finish, which got farther and farther away (or so it seemed) with the dwindling wind. Wind or no wind, the night took my breath away, and reminded me why I love to be at sea alone. The solace, and feeling of connection with nature and the universe is incomparable. The past couple of years have been really hard on me, especially the past 6 months. I have struggled to find light and joy in most things, but being on the boat, gliding along under the full moon was an immediate balm for my heart and soul. I felt true deep joy for the first time in months. I hooted and hollered, laughed, cried and shouted my deep prayers of gratitude into the wind for this amazing opportunity for growth and healing. Not only do these experiences make me a better sailor, but they make me a more connected person.
Congratulations to Tom Wilson on his Hobie 33 who smoked everyone in the singlehanded division, and Charles and Jerome who took 1st in the double handed division. I placed 4th in the singlehanded division in the preliminary results (though this may change, as I just received my renewed PHRF certificate the night I got home, and they have changed my rating…..long story). In the end, my place doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is the experience, and my consistent improvement as a sailor and racer against all of my heroes. As always, I am deeply honored to be in the company of such accomplished and brave sailors. To race side by side with my mentors and friends inspires me to no end, and I am very grateful for such a unique opportunity. Our next race is Bishop Rock, which is about 170 nm round trip. This will step things up a few notches, as well as prepare me for Guadalupe Island in March (EEEK!).