Tuesday night light wind racing – single handing

This weekend I THOUGHT I was scheduled to teach at BCYC sailing school Saturday and Sunday morning, but it wasn’t so.  A schedule Snafu let me without a teaching gig, but I did wind up jumping in another open spot and teaching a couple of guys for about 3 hours Sunday afternoon.  The wind had come up to almost 10 mph.  We practiced heaving to, man overboard pickup, and docking.  All of which pretty much require you to bring you boat to a stop.  In higher winds it’s a bit difficult, but they did OK.  I got a compliment.  Not to brag on myself or anything, but one did say out of the three instructors he had, he thought I was the best.  (OK, I am bragging on myself a little bit – I admit it)

Then Monday (yesterday) on Boca Ciega Bay the wind was blowing great, but I was kind of beat, and passed a chance to sail.  That is so unlike me.  It would have been fun though.

Tonight was Tuesday night racing.  It was scheduled to be our last night of the season and the wind decided not to show up!  It was VERY light, but I told them I was going anyway and in the end everybody agreed to go.  So that put the total number of racers at 9.  Our club boats (The Catalina Capri 16.5) at BCYC are configured so they need a captain and a jib tender.   That meant one boat would have to take 3 people.  I suspected it would be possible to sail by myself, and decided to take the opportunity to try it.  Turns out it was a little difficult, but I managed.

Race results out of 5 boats:   First, First, Third, First, Fifth.

On the two races I didn’t get first, I had such a terrible start I was last over the starting line.   I think winning was a combination of 3 things.

1) It was light winds, and where the other boats had a crew weight of about 300 lbs, I was sitting light at 170.  (OK, 174 – but I’m working on it)

2) I’ve learned a lot about sail trim from all the racing I’ve been doing.  Especially the Thursday night races at Davis Island Yacht Club where I watch and listen to very experienced sailors tweak the sails to get maximum output.

3) Mark R. was in a boat, but wasn’t driving the first two races.  He almost always wins. (But I handed it to him in race four!)

Lessons Learned:

1) If you think you want to do something, but are a little hesitant (or afraid), find a way to reduce the riskiness of it if you can.  By singlehandling the boat in very light wind, there wasn’t much chance to capsize or something else terrible.  With the other boats around I was confident that if I somehow did get into trouble that I would have plenty of help.  This gave me the confidence to go and do it.  Now I’m sure I could do it in higher winds.  I think this could apply in many types of situations, not just sailing.

2) I watched the wind puffs on the water.  If I could I sailed to where it looked like wind was blowing .vs. where the water looked flat.  I saw other boats ignore this, and was able to gain distance on them.

3) The starting line is crucial.  I think I gave up a position I didn’t need to on both the third and fifth races, and it cost me dearly.  Last over the starting line usually means last over the finish line.  I need to understand starting tactics a lot better.

P.S.  We decided to squeeze out one more Tuesday night racing next week.  I hope the weather and tide is good!


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