Saturday, August 28, 2010

Commodores Cup Regatta 2010

Saturday dawned warm and bright with light winds. Perfect forecast for this Annual Commodores Cup Regatta. Brittney and Matt were on board as we made our way out to the start area. We had on our biggest head sail for these light winds. This sail is nearing the end of it's life and we want to get everything we can out of her before she's retired.

Brett brought Kim along for her second race this summer. She's a Band Teacher from Austin whom he met while travelling this summer. We always tell people who come out sailing with us that the first time they visit, they're guests... if they come back, they're crew. Her job was to make sure that the lines run free when we tack this big sail. It has an uncanny way of hooking the lazy sheet onto a cleat or some other type of hindrance. She took her duties seriously and we didn't have one tacking mishap the whole day.

This regatta is an annual BYC event that is open only to members. Of course the crew don't have to be members, so we had some luck in finding the Watson clan to come out today and help us out. Bruce had a captive audience as he gave some instructions and assigned crew positions to the Watsons Jr. and Sr., Clay and Krystal would work the wenches and Jon was assigned to main sheet. I think he's done some sailing in past years so he picked it up again pretty quickly.

While all of this was going on, the "Party Crowd" was on the rail awaiting the start of the first race.

BYC has no trouble finding a committee boat for these races normally... This weekend, Cabaret was unable to do race committee as the owner, our Commodore, was busy preparing the evening meal for the Club. Somehow, Jim, our Race Chairman, found Belly Dancer to do the job. It's a long hot day for these people and we owe them many thanks. Today would be quite a chore with 2, perhaps 3 races to do before we head for the slips.

We have 5 boats entered in this year's regatta. The boat to beat is aptly named Warrior. We knew we would have to sail hard to beat them. Bruce and his crew worked hard to trim sails, but the winds... never strong to start with, steadily decreased.

We slowed and slowed... Our crew stayed snuggled up to the head sail on the low side to give the boat all the heel we could. We had plenty of time to chit chat and eventually, talked ourselves out...

There was so little wind, we were hardly moving. Bruce had worried before the race that this little boat, Typhoon, would be the last over the finish line causing us all to wait. But he seemed to be keeping up with the fleet in these non existent winds.

For a while, I stared at the shore and would have sworn that we were drifting backwards! Clay took the wheel from Bruce and assured us all that we were doing a half knot in the right direction. His strategy was to point the nose right at the mark and hope we made it.

It worked! We finally rounded the marker and turned towards the next. Matt and Brett sprung into action on the foredeck and rigged up the pole to get all we could from the sails. Before the race, Clay had spoken to Matt and Brett and it was decided that they would work the foredeck with no assistance. It was a good move. I think they both got a lot out of doing it themselves without anybody up there getting in the way.

We got the sails set and began to notice that the committee boat was taking up a marker and moving it. The radio sounded with instructions to move the finish line closer to put us out of our misery and avoid mutiny aboard all five boats in the race. We watched as Warrior crossed the new line just ahead of us. We had chased them the whole way... if chasing is the right word as slow as we were going... End of race #1 We had no real idea how we had done against the other boats, but we knew that Warrior had beat us. With the handicaps, it was possible that others would correct out ahead of us as well.

We were hot and hungry. I went below to make up a batch of my "signature" sandwiches for the crew. The happiest crews are on the boats with the best sandwiches. Mine are made on sourdough bread, with avocado, pesto, turkey and provolone. Yum!

We were all ready to start the second race when a sudden breeze began to blow. Things were looking up! We got a good start. Unfortunately we didn't get our sails trimmed right and lost some time to Warrior again.

We went right and when we tacked back towards the mark, we tacked too soon on a wind shift and they went off and left us behind. The crew was working hard. We had to tack back again.

The boat fluff was on the high side and enjoyin' life.

Warrior and Pazuzu were out ahead of us. We sailed on until we thought we had the lay line.

Pazuzu had to decide which boat knew best, us or Warrior. They tacked over with us as Warrior kept on going. It looked like they were way out there before they finally tacked towards the mark.

As it turns out... They should have followed Warrior. They nailed the lay line and we had to make an additional two tacks to make it around. Our crew manhandled this big head sail in the building winds to make our tacks as quick as possible.

We made our way to #2, the second mark and passed Pazuzu leaving only Warrior out in front of us.

Again, the other boats had their chance to correct out ahead of us so we had no idea if we would place.

The sun was out in full force and we would have sweltered had it not been for the winds.

The crew grew lazy as we sailed on to the finish line behind Warrior with a much wider margin than the first. We wondered why Warrior was not furling their sails. We all thought it was over. But wait... the committee boat was displaying a flag that signified that they weren't done with us yet.

There would be a third race! We were hot... we were tired... I just knew there would be a mutiny. The crew was silent.

The only sound was the harmonica music and buzzards screaming in the sky in my mind like an old Western movie...

The committee boat shouted a promise that it would be a short one. OK... get the attitudes in gear. The winds continued to come up and really, the second race hadn't been bad at all. The crew was shaping up and... it would be a short one!

The start turned out to be a wake up call for us all. Bruce had the boat in perfect alignment to slide right past the committee boat. He saw Pazuzu coming up on his starboard rear with no overlap to be had. It looked like Pazuzu was going to try to barge the line. Just as the crew began to brace for the crunch and a small squeak escaped me, Bruce yelled to Pazuzu "Larry, I could protest you for this, but I'm not going to!" Elan turned off the wind to avoid the collision and Larry poked his nose across the line.

We quickly resumed course and pulled away from the fleet, little or no damage done but maybe for the floors on board Belly Dancer.

It was as promised, a short course. We all piled onto the high side rail and dashed out to round #2, then back to #1 and finish.

This time, we stayed out in front of all the other boats.

It was so nice. And to think, we would have missed this and gone home disheartened. We crossed the finish line triumphant!

At least we had redeemed ourselves this day. We still had no idea how we actually finished as we owe all of the boats in the race time. We found out at the dinner back at BYC, that we had finished 2nd in every race. Hooray! What a fun day on the water it had been. We bonded in adversity and came out victorious! That's what sailing is all about!

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