Sunday, June 18, 2006


I sailed in my first regatta Saturday, on my friend's boat Dragonfly. Dragonfly is a J-80, a 26' racing sailboat. We finished 2nd in the first race, and 2nd in the second race, each time behind the same boat.

The second race was really exciting: we were neck-and-neck with the other boat for an entire lap: one mile to windward, and one mile downwind. There must have been 3 or 4 lead changes. Essentially, we outtacked them on the windward leg and overtook them; the outjibed us on the downwind leg and overtook us. Near the finish line, there were some shift tactics going on: we were trying to steal their wind by interposing Dragonfly between the 15-20 knot breezes and their spinnaker. It didn't work especially well, but it was pretty exciting.

Then we headed into port and drank beer.

My crew position was in the #4 spot, furthest forward. My job was mostly to hoist the spinnaker as we rounded the mark, and to ease the tack line and spinnaker halyard as the spinnaker came down. I also helped bring the spinnaker around when we jibed. Between raising and dousing the spinnaker, I usually leaned my weight over the windward side of the boat to balance her and make her go faster.

Previously -- on the occassion of my batchelor party, in fact -- I have trimmed the spinnaker sheet. That's a tough job: always craning the neck upward, trying to keep the spinnaker full of air...but not too full. Anyway, the more I learn about sailing, the more I'll know, and the better sailor I will be.

Maybe someday I'll learn what a cunningham and an outhaul are for. I never can figure them out.

My thanks to the skipper for including me in the fun. I've got a bruise, a scrape, and a localized sunburn...but I'm eager for more.


At 10:57 PM, Blogger Tillerman said...

Sounds like fun - hope to read more of your sailing adventures.

The cunningham is the string thingie that tightens the front of the big flappie thingie. The outhaul is the string thingie that tightens the bottom of the big flappie thingie. They both have the same purpose - to give the skipper something to worry about adjusting when he's not sailing fast enough.


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