I have been hearing about the Cat Harbor Layover race for years, though for some reason, I had never done it until this year. It is the 4th and 5th race in the William Berger, William Stein race series put on by Del Rey Yacht Club. My crew weren’t available for the race, which gave Carrie and I a perfect opportunity to double-hand in preparation for all of PSSA’s summer races.
We set off on Friday morning, very excited about the weekend, and pretty much on top of our game. I felt prepared and we were both excited to get out there and push ourselves. We would have done really well on that 1st race if I hadn’t messed up (UNDERSTATEMENT) our start. I misunderstood the order of starts and thought our class was separated, so we missed starting by 5 minutes with all of our competitors. We didn’t let it get us down though, and even managed to pass a couple of them along the way to the west end of Catalina Island. As the day went on, the wind started to die, which made the finish very elusive and much like the end of a rainbow that we would never reach. When we were a mile from the finish the wind shut down altogether and we were literally drifting, tweaking our sails to capture what little wind there was. That’s when we decided a cockpit dance party was in order. We had one big boat on our hip drifting along, and someone in front of us who had already retired due to the lack of wind. Turns out dancing in the cockpit was just the ticket, because we were miraculously able to pull ahead of the big boat behind us and finish the race. By the time we got to Cat Harbor, it was after 8:30pm and we were beat. Did I mention I brought my dog along? Well I did, and she was dying for a pee, and we had to scramble to get the dinghy inflated, our boat put away, and our food ready to take to shore . By the time I finally did get food, I was” hangry” as all get out, but with a little burger in me, I started to feel myself (thanks Carrie for feeding me)! It was fun to see everyone at the DRYC facility, though we were so late, that we only caught the tail end. Which was fine with us, because we were BEAT and our bunks were calling our names!!
Sunday morning was beautiful, and none of us wanted to leave. Catalina can cast a spell like that for sure. We readied ourselves despite our reticence, and what ensued was one of the best days sailing I have ever had! We had 2 knots of wind at the start, and this time we were starting in a split class. Thank God because ….18 big boats floating around the line with little maneuverability would have been an adventure to say the least. We ghosted across the line with the first few boats and set our gennaker right away. As we did this, the wind came up and we started scooting along. The rest of the day was basically a drag race all the way home, rolling people then being rolled back, trying to catch the Rascals (team Rascal) ahead of us. It was a blast. We flew the gennaker until we finished, and that sail proved to be very versatile as we had her everywhere form a close reach to a broad reach, and her performance never waivered. With only two of us in the boat, we both had to be on top of our game all day. There was barely time or a way to eat. I steered most of the way, while Carrie played our main like a boss, and did a million other things (including feeding me AGAIN). I was able to trim the Gennaker while I steered, and we kept Cassiopeia moving out! By the time we finished, we were both in a state of utter exhaustion. The last time I felt that tired was in the middle of the Pacific. Double handing in these races is challenging in itself, but, because we aren’t permitted to use our autopilot at all, as we can in the PSSA races, there is no rest. We sure felt it, but were both so happy and fulfilled out there! I am so grateful for Carrie and her expertise and for keeping me laughing!. Our teamwork is seamless, and we compliment each other so well. I cannot wait for more races this summer!