Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Regatta

By
There is nothing better than on a summer day being on a sailboat with the spray and wind in your face keeping you cool. The feeling of cruising just inches over the water at 10-12 knots is very exhilarating. The shape of the hull reflects the white churned up water off the hull in a majestic cascading fashion. Being in the cockpit with the sails in front of me while holding onto the helm, I feel independent. Sitting there I am surrounded by lines like a spider web, which control the sails. The sails are hauled up, and form walls of white cloth with the sun reflecting off of them. Now I can direct the boat and choose its course. I have spent a thousand hours sailing and racing on all types of sailboats.

It was
a brisk morning in early July around 6 am when the Sauderstown Yacht Club racing team met. Fourteen of us were at the yacht club to pile into cars, with boats in tow, to head up to the New Bedford Junior Regatta. The wind was a gentle breeze out of the Northwest, which gave me the impression that it would be a slow day of sailing. After close to two hours on the road we pulled into the New Bedford Yacht Club and immediately hundreds of 420’s, Lasers, and Optimists surround us all in the process of being rigged. Rigging the boat is the time consuming part of the day. Struggling to put the 25 ft mast into place on the boat, balancing it upright then lifting it into its cradle is a challenge. We launched the boat in the dirty brownish water of New Bedford and sailed out to the racecourse.

As soon as Lyle and I exited the harbor in our 420, we both immediately saw the dark wind line making its way down towards the starting line. This was a welcome change of events and meant the day would be much more exhilarating but exhausting. The wind increased all morning while our team practiced and by the time the first gun was fired the wind was a steady 20 knots. When the five-minute gun went off, simultaneously every single crew hit the timer button on their watches and the starting line became a mess of 80 boats criss-crossing back and forth until they heard the 1 minute gun and then it got really chaotic. The starting line was extremely wet that day, the wake from 80 boats stirred up the water so much that I was bailing to keep up with the spray and waves coming over the bow. Then I heard the words that I had been waiting for “Ok, get out there. Here we go”!

With twenty seconds still on the clock, I was already clipped into the trapeze and I was out there trapping and playing the jib sail to control our starting position. When the gun went off at the start we were the lead boat, out front in clean air eating up small chop, beating up to the windward mark. Being out on the trapeze wire is about constant adjustments to keep the boat sailing flat and fast. The sense of being out front is something so rewarding that it outweighs all the work your doing. I was completely sore and completely drenched from the spray of the waves, after each wave it looked as if we had just got came out of the shower.

After playing the shifts in the wind perfectly and only needing to do three wire to wire tacks on the trapeze we had reached the windward mark still holding onto the lead position. One problem with being out front is trying to figure out what mark you’re going to next, especially since Lyle and I had both forgotten to look at the posted course at the start.

Rounding the windward mark we did a perfect wrong side set with spinnaker. This is when the skipper raises the sail as the crew throws the bundled up spinnaker around the front of the boat to avoid a jibe tack. I threw out the spinnaker on the wrong side while Lyle pulled the sail up in a hurry while I attached all necessary fittings to the spinnaker pole before shoving it out and onto the ring on the mast. All that had gone over very smoothly and now it was time for the constant adjustments that the spinnaker required. We were approaching the leeward (downwind mark) gate and it had looked like our side of the course that we had taken had not paid off as we had hoped and we had dropped into seventh place. About 10 yards before the gate is where it gets interesting. I had to douse the spinnaker which means unclip the spinnaker pole from all lines throw it in the front of the boat and then hurriedly take the spinnaker down all before rounding the mark. This may sound easy but in a race this mark will make or break you. Luckily for me everything went smoothly and we jibed around the starboard mark with me already clipped and trapping.

The finish line was at the top mark so we were finally twenty minutes later on our last leg of the race. Once again we were superior to a lot of the boats around us on the upwind beats and we left several behind. Coming to the finish line we were not exactly sure where it was so after we rounded the top mark we became a little worried if we had crossed the line or not. We found out soon after that we did and that we had gotten third place. This was only the first race of the day with four more of them ahead of us, and then another three more the following day.





Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

drmstarlet21 said...
Apr. 1, 2011 at 11:13 am
I absolutely love this!! I've sailed Beetle Cats before, my family owns one made in 1976, I own an Optimist, and now I sail 420s. I have slight experience with Lasers and Sunfish. I race on Cape Cod every summer. I love regattas, and trapezing is my favorite pastime on a 420. Your experience reminds me so much of what I have done. It made me happy as I reminisce about better times in my life. Thank you :)
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback