Monday, January 23, 2012

On Your Mark. Get Set. Sailboat Race!

One of the many J boats bearing down on us.

On Saturdays in Galveston Bay, the water is teeming with sailboats, and a majority of them are not just out for a leisurely day sail. They are racing, and Vlad and I got the chance to race with them for the first time this weekend on our friends' sailboat - the same friends who have the J-22 spinnaker, fondly known as the "napkin," on their 37-foot or so boat.

Needless to say, I was overcome with excitement at the thought of racing. For one thing, I don't know what I'm doing, and for another I'd heard that racing captains yell a lot. Who could want anything more on a Saturday morning?

Alas, there wasn't a ton of wind. At one point we got into a hole (a windless area) and were only going 2 knots. That equates to about 2 miles an hour, which means that I walk faster than we were racing. It's amazing that people make it around the world in these things.

Most of the time, however, we were at about 5 to 5.5 knots, and the day was not without it's share of tension. Going around the marks, which in Galveston Bay are abandoned oil platforms, with twenty boats all crunched in next to you and a J boat shooting between you and the rusted steel pilings can be a little hairy. Here's what it looked like behind us after the first mark:

And we got to fly the napkin!

The famous napkin. My mom calls it the hanky.

Evidently, a real spinnaker looks like this:

And the race claimed a victim - Vlad's knee. Kids, this is what happens when you don't have Band-Aids.

For my first race, I have to say that all my criteria were met. I learned more about sail trim, about how to watch the wind (that sounds so zen!) and about how to avoid collisions. And I got yelled at! But only enough to make me feel like we were really racing.

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