I spent my first weekend back in Annapolis doing the Annapolis Yacht Club double handed distance race! I was back on Moondust, the Beneteau 36.7 racing with Tim again. As usual the best way I can tell the story is to step aside and let a pro writer (Tim) tell it for me by linking to his blog article here. His narrative is perfect – I would only add a couple of details from my perspective:
First: I was healthy for this race!!! Yeeessssssssssss. Earlier in the summer I significantly over-did it with some exercise and comprehensively threw my back out. As in – threw it out badly enough that I went to the ER for a $2K emergency visit for the pain. That was in late July, so I spent the rest of the summer trying to balance the need to allow my back to heal while staying in shape (in general) so that I would be fit for this very, very physical race where two people do the work of 8-10 for the better part of 20 hours (in particular!). Several more times during the summer I had mini spasms and I was secretly terrified that it would go out again and ruin the race for both of us, or that I would have to stop working out and be less than fit for the race. But it didn’t seize up again! I modified my exercises to be more careful with my back while still trying to keep my conditioning intact. It was a huge relief to feel that this approach worked perfectly while grinding genoa sheets in all night!
Second: Yes, this is a very physical race! Setting a symmetrical spinnaker on a 36 foot boat double handed is a bit of a wind sprint, but tacking 40 miles upwind for countless hours while on a big heal in a snotty set of waves was the real test of endurance. We owned it. It felt great. In fact when we doused the spinnaker at 2:30 am or so I felt perfectly ready for several more hours.
Third: I got to work the deck for our two spinnaker sets and douses, the second one of which was at night. I also got to do a symmetrical jibe around 1am in the dark. Baller.
Fourth: Tim is right that I am on cloud 9 sailing in the middle of the night, alone on deck. “F yes, puffy little clouds and bright stars up in the sky at 2am while I tune the spinnaker sheet and guy. F yes! “
The result of the race wasn’t what either of us wanted but I’ve learned to focus on (and relish) the positive aspects of an experience like this and significantly discount the scoring. That doesn’t mean one doesn’t try his hardest to sail his best, it just means that he doesn’t get hung up on the finishing order that gets published. My friend Nick used to always ask “but did we sail well?” after a bad result racing the Mumm 30 back in the late 1990s. If we did, he was satisfied, even if the result was poor. That was some serious wisdom from a 20-something looking back on it. At 50 years old, I wish I had learned his earlier and had enjoyed the sailing during the 2001 J/29 North Americans as much as the winning of the regatta. So that’s what I focus on now and that learning is what gave me a great experience this weekend irrespective of the finishing result.