The Sailing Race | Teen Ink

The Sailing Race MAG

By Anonymous

     The main sheet cut my fingers as the fibers dug into my skin. Waves were relentlessly smashing over the starboard side of the 420 as the vessel lurched to one side, raising me high above my sister on the opposite side. Without hesitation, I wrapped my feet around the hiking straps in the center of the boat and flung my midriff over the edge.

I noted my sister’s panicked expression, but my eyes were trained on the buoy in the distance. The wind screamed through my hair and my mouth became dry. My abs tightened with the unexpected responsibility of supporting my body. The sail convulsed violently, and years of training told me to pull in the main sheet for optimum speed. This, in turn, caused the boat to keel even farther. I locked the rope into the cleat and shook out the pain in my hand. From my position far over the edge, I could see the white centerboard and butterflies erupted in my stomach.

I heard my sister scream at me to uncleat the main sheet. She was on the low side of the boat attempting to bail out water. Her sun-kissed brown hair was glued to her face from the salt, strands running across her eyes and mouth. Again she yelled, “Let out the main sheet!”

An “enemy” boat came up behind us really fast, with the rest of the racers trailing it. I had a sickening realization as the skipper steered to one side - he was going to steal our wind.

“Mike!” my sister yelled.

The tiller yanked and jerked in my left hand as I attempted to keep the boat steady. Should I let out the main sheet, avoiding capsizing, or keep it tight and cross the finish line first?

“Mike! Let it out!”

My hand clutched the rope and I yanked it free of the cleat. The sail whizzed away from me, the boom swinging far outside of the boat. My side plunged downward and the 420 leveled out. Our sail went dead for just a second as the boat next to us took our wind, but it was long enough. The rival ship flew by, the skipper’s middle finger saluting us as he passed.

Ahead, a pack of buoys, Zodiacs, and motorboats marked the finish line. Parents sporting boat shoes stood on the decks and cheered as their children fought their way around opponents. My harried sister looked up from her bailing with contempt and defeat on her face. Ashamed, I focused once more on the crowd.

Just then, a gust of wind blew through the course. The boat ahead pitched violently onto its side and a boy, no more than 15, was flung from the boat. The tiller went haywire (apparently the boy was the skipper) and the vessel capsized. Its centerboard bobbed lamely above the harsh seas, reminiscent of a white flag. My sister and I stared at each other with rekindled hope. I wove around the boat and the finger-happy teenager, and we flew over the finish line.

A horn erupted from the sidelines announcing that there was a winner, but the screams of joy and cheers from my sister drowned out the noise.

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