Sunday, March 25, 2012

Voodoo curse is broken; we get to sail!!

Some sailors started joking that the Flying Scots were the victims of a voodoo spell when three of the four days of scheduled sailing at the New Orleans Midwinters were cancelled — Tuesday and Wednesday had winds in the 20s with gusts in the mid 30s and Thursday was pouring rain and zero wind.

But others countered with the fact that we had made the appropriate sacrifice, referring to the Flying Scot that was totaled when a drunk driver side-swiped it on the drive to the regatta (the owners were uninjured and were able to borrow a Scot).

Friday morning we were woken at 6 a.m. by the loudest thunderstorms and rain yet. We groaned, rolled over and turned off our alarm. Except, when we did get up about 8 a.m., the skies had cleared and there were moderate breezes. Hallelujah!

By Friday morning more than half a dozen sailors had packed up and gone home, but we stuck with it and I'm happy we did. The sailing Saturday was in about 7-10 out of the west, northwest for most of the day. I thought I had been optimistic that we'd get to race, but I must have not been as optimistic as I thought because I neglected to bring anything on the boat but one bottle of Gatorade. We had four excellent races. Ben and I were parched and had to request water from the committee boat after every race, but we were happy. We had two great races (for us): a fifth- and a third-place finish. But then we had two not-so-great finishes. Oh well, that's sailing!

In addition to our boat, Eric and Rod Bussell and Chris Tesdal from Clinton Lake came and sailed the Challenger Division in the Bussell's boat, Windtalker. After a strong and consistent performance (one 2nd and three 3rds) they got second in the regatta. Congratulations to Eric, Rod and Chris!!

We learned a lot at this regatta, as usual. We learned a new technique for hoisting the spinnaker where we pull the jib in very tight right before the hoist and don't put up the pole until the spin is up. That worked really well for us. No more hourglasses and a much faster hoist. We also learned to launch our boat over the bulkhead, which was carpeted. That worked fine because the water was so high from the rain and strong winds that caused water to pile up on the southern shore of the lake. We also learned from the Carpenters that some sailors keep all the zippers and velcro tabs closed on their top cover and just slide it off through the hole where the mast goes. I'm excited to try that next regatta trip!

As usual we had a great time visiting with our fellow sailors and eating awesome N'Awlins food, from gumbo to bananas foster! Next up? Chattanooga Choo Choo at Privateer Yacht Club in Chattanooga, Tenn, the last weekend of April. See you all there!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Flying Scot Midwinters, day two...

Ben and I came to New Orleans for the Flying Scot Midwinters and are enjoying the trip so far, though so far we've sailed as much as if our boat were still in storage!

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, we sailed three races Sunday in the warmup regatta in great conditions, but since the official regatta started yesterday, New Orleans has been socked in with bad weather and too much wind. You know it's windy when they ban trucks from driving across the Lake Ponchartrain bridge because they'll be blown over. That's been the case the last two days.

Still, we are optimistic that things will clear up tomorrow or Friday and meanwhile we learned some things about sailing in heavy wind from a panel of racers — Paul Abdullah, Dave Bolyard, Kelly Gough, and Ryan Malmgren — and MC'd by Al Terhune.

Ben and I have spent some of our spare time in the French Quarter and along Magazine Street. Today we went to the WWII museum in New Orleans. It turns out the landing craft with those drop down ramps were all designed and built by a guy named Andrew Higgins, whose factory was in New Orleans. Every craft like that, even those he didn't build, was known as a Higgins boat.

More tomorrow.