by David Roberts
Well last year was very interesting to say the least. It started out with my falling victim to a brain aneurysm Feb. 13th, which was a Friday by the way. Friday the 13th, I have never been superstitious but it does give a moment of pause. I was getting ready to make a presentation promoting a sailing event to raise money for the local Main Street Association to a Networking group. I had made all the prep; power point, and so on. It was just minutes before we were to start; we just finished breakfast and I experienced a severe pain on the right side of my head. Next thing I know I am waking up on the floor with people standing over me, not long after that the paramedics showed up and I got to go on an ambulance ride, then a helicopter ride, then a two week stay in the hospital. From the time I passed out to the time I checked out of the hospital it is a blur. My memories are like short video clips with no real timeline.
They told me that I was going to have a long recovery before I get back to myself again. I was told that I could not even drive for 6 months. I took that as meaning it would be a 6 month recovery. Not so; it has been nearly a year and days slip by and I don’t know what I did. I take medication and I often can’t remember if I took or not. I feed the dog twice the other morning, I only know this because she gets a dental treat after each feeding I and was about to give her her 2nd treat when I all of a sudden remember that I already gave her a dental treat that morning. She was a little bummed when I put the treat back.
So Lezlie D’s sailing season was at risk back in February with her skipper on the mend. It wasn’t looking good. Back in 2014 we had made a commitment to give Lezlie D a new bottom after the fall decommissioning. So that meant sanding off the old Interlux Micron CSC ablative bottom paint, and then applying the new VC17 racers paint. That is a big job, but I have some good friends and crew that pitched in and we got the job done on time for the spring launch. Thanks to Brian Tjader and Randy Wickstrom. We had also bought a new folding prop at the boat show over the winter, so Lezlie D. had a new bottom and folding prop and she was at lease ready even if her skipper was still on the mend.
Well we got a slow start to the season, we had a few race cancelations some because of too much wind and some because of not enough wind. When we did have wind I was struggling to skipper the boat effectively. The whole time; distance; and spatial reasoning thing was a challenge for me. A huge praise to my crew for letting me make the mistakes and supporting my poor decisions. I am sure there were times when you were wondering what the hell I was thinking. To tell the truth so was I. We keep finding ourselves in a bad start position, and for anyone who knows sailboat racing, you know that a good start is crucial!
It took us half way through the season to start to get our chops back (sorry; old musician term.) We stopped coming in last and starting taking 3rd s and the 2nd s, By the time we found ourselves in the makeup races we were neck and neck with Leo on Tigress a 36 foot Dufour Classic. We had to win both races to score 2nd place for the season. We had no chance for 1st place, George of Blush a 30 foot Tartan had that wrapped up for weeks now. George was hitting 1stplace week after week from the beginning of the season he didn’t even have to show up on the makeup races and he would still have won 1st for the season. George is an inspiration to me. He is 85 and still sailing every week and killing it. Way to go George.
The makeup races was where we really shined this year. In the first race Tigress was late to the race and that help us a lot. Never hurts when your competition doesn’t even show up. As with the rest of the year we followed Blush across the finish line by a good margin. And took a 2nd. Tigress was so late to the line they didn’t even get scored. The 2nd race was very interesting. There was a hole in the wind right after the windward mark rounding. We had and offset mark as well and it was a coin toss as to try to head directly to the mark on almost a run more like a broad reach, or come up on the wind; sail faster but have to tack back to the mark. In other words sail shorter but slower or sail further and faster. Blush had beat us to the windward mark and choose to come up and sail faster. I have always believed that you can’t win a sailboat race by following the other guy, you have to go get your own wind and sail your race. So I choose to sail the shorter course and run a bit slower. Well the gamble paid off because half way to the offset mark the wind shifted left and we were on a beam reach and Blush was on the run. In other words we were sailing faster, and now on a shorter course. We meet at the offset mark and we had an overlap, we were both on the starboard tack and we were the leeward boat so we had rights. We came around the mark and we were covering Blush so the only thing they could do is to tack out of there and go get their own wind. Unfortunately for Blush the rest of the fleet was right behind us and for them to cross the race course they had no rights so they had to duck the fleet to get high of the pack into clear air. We were in clear air and decent speed and in position to beat Blush for the first time in the season, all we had to do is keep sailing as fast as we could and that is just what we did. We took first place, Blush second, and Tigress third. A Great end to a dubious race season.