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:
With Rover still ashore getting the final touches put on our winter projects, we have been doing quite a bit of local racing! In addition to Wednesday nights on the Beneteau 36.7 and a few weekend double handed races, Lisa and I have teamed up with our friends Lynda and Craig to race a rented yacht club J/22 on Thursday evenings. I am driving the boat while Lynda does tactics, Lisa does foredeck and Craig trims.
Be careful what you wish for. Years ago, I learned from Annapolis locals that those who had a passion for sailing and tried to make a career of it quickly figured out that making a job out out of a hobby could kill the fantasy. As my sailmaker in the late 1990s put it to me about why he wasn’t psyched to go on test sails with me after work: “If you were a porn star, would you really want to go home and F— after work?” I saw his point! Consider this level of stress for the legendary Ken Read leading the gazillion dollar mega yacht Comanche at the start of the 2014 Sydney Hobart race (even though she’s leading – just listen for a few minutes after the start of this clip, and also note the stress in Mark Richard’s voice aboard Wild Oats):
So with that background, guess what it took to reignite passion outside of “work” for sailing for that same Ken Read? Short handed sailing! Given my recent experiences, I totally get it, but don’t take my word for it:
I am becoming legitimately obsessed with double handed racing. This past Saturday may have been the best and most enjoyable experience of my racing career, which dates back to 1996. And this was only my second double-handed race! In fact, I think I’m growing to love this version of sailing almost as much as single handed passage making. Both push the crew to find a whole additional gear in sailing – intellectually and (especially in Saturday’s weather) physically.
Much of the 25 mile race was covered flying the symmetrical spinnaker down the Bay, followed by a douse, a beam reach, and finally a (slightly overpowered) true beat to the finish. Tim’s excellent writeup is here – be sure to read to the end for the adventure delivering home after the race!
Wednesday night was really, really windy! Breeze in 20s, gusts to 30. As usual for the first Wednesday night series, 3/4 of Team Rover was aboard: Brian, Lisa and me. We learned a lot. Our shoal draft (~6′) Beneteau 36.7 is a very nice boat to sail, but this race really showed the value of a deep draft keel in big breeze. We were very much in this race at the leeward mark, but oh dear, when we turned back upwind the race boats showed us “there is no substitute for draft.” Tim’s excellent writeup is here.
Here is my ride for double-handed racing this season: a Benetau 36.7! I had a blast this past Saturday racing the Double Handed NOOD with Tim Zimmerman, the boat’s co-owner. As a professional journalist, he does a much better job describing out adventure than I ever could, so I am going to be lazy and link to his content here.
Ever had trouble staying alert while on those long overnight watches during a race or a delivery? Here are some games we made up to keep ourselves entertained during the Annapolis to Newport race:
Try to name every state and each state’s capital. We tried to remember them all by starting in alphabetical order
The same but for European countries
The same but for African countries. We didn’t make much progress on this one despite the fact that yours truly took a History of Modern Africa class in college that required memorization of precisely these items. Sigh.
Does anyone know a language the others don’t? Teach them common daily phrases. We chose Norwegian.
We also made up a new game we called “superlatives.” Although the idea isn’t all that novel and on further reflection a game called “superlatives” almost certainly is already a thing, the game seemed novel through the fog of sleep depravation. We’d ask questions like the following and then go in a circle so that each crew member could give his / her own answer:
What’s the most scared you’ve ever been in your life?
What’s the most drunk?
Name an alcoholic beverage with which you’ve “had a falling out” and tell the story
What’s the best movie ever made?
What’s the most beautiful boat ever made?
…and so on. We entertained ourselves for hours, day and night. Try it on your next passage!
The first time we raced Odette (from Miami to Havana) we struggled to get her going – especially in light air – and we didn’t have the choreography of sail changes down as well as we would have liked. Since then we’ve spent many more hours aboard getting to know the boat, and we committed two Saturday practices leading up the race to fine tuning our crew maneuvers. All of the hard work paid off in a much better finishing result. Continue reading Racing Annapolis to Newport On The Hylas 56→