Friday, July 22, 2016

Warning, a slightly longer post...including some philosophical reflections!

Fleet 135 Wins the Fleet One Trophy!!! From Left, Marianne Gerry, Frank Gerry, Deb Aronson, Ben Williams, Eric Bussell, Chris Tesdal. Shirts designed by Eric and printed by Emilio Tellini
By Thursday I was done. Cooked. I had sailed already for four days in heavy winds. Sunday: three races in the women's championship. Monday: three races in the qualifiers, in more wind  — at least for longer periods — than we'd ever had the Scot in. {Ben looked at WindAlert for Monday when we were sailing back to the harbor we were in steady mid 20s with gusts to 29 or 30. Not ideal Scot conditions.} Tuesday: okay, that was only two races in a mere 10-12 mph. And Wednesday: two races in winds so heavy that we were hiking the entire time, we had the vang on hard the entire time, and I got soaked. Maybe getting soaked every day had something to do with how hard I hit the wall. But whatever the reason by Thursday I was cooked. I was so tired I could barely get my limbs to work. We were going to sail another race in those conditions but only one and we had to sail all the way out to the course to do it? I seriously considered mutiny.

Ben assured me the wind would finally be moderate... at least starting at 11 when we were scheduled to race. By 1 pm, however, it would build as the sea breeze came in. Guess what? We got to the club and the AP flag was up! I went to the car, lay down in the shade and went to sleep. I figured if Ben really wanted to sail, he'd figure out a way to get the boat in the water without me! That is, in fact, one of the fabulous things about the Scot "family" — everyone pitches in whenever there is need. I slept so hard I didn't even hear the AP flag come down, or hear Lynn Bruss bring me a sandwich and pretzels and water (Thank you Lynn!). Happily I woke up in time, however, and went to find Ben. Meanwhile I bumped into Chris and Eric who mentioned that we (fleet 135) were in contention for the Fleet One trophy, which is the fleet with the highest top three finishing boats. Between that and the sandwich I found the wherewithal to step back on the boat.

The sail out was lovely and moderate. The water was flat. There were no white caps. I crawled up under the bow to rest some more. After we checked in (me by waving my leg above the deck so they could see Ben had his crew) I sat up and we began to check the course. The wind was out of the south again. There was another enormous car carrier coming through that we had to keep an eye on, and, wouldn't you know it, here come the white caps and waves again. 

I have to mention that I love sailing. I admit that sometimes heavy wind makes me nervous. But this week I was never nervous. One nice thing about a location like Newport as opposed to an inland lake is that the gusts, when they come, give you plenty of warning and build steadily. Unlike in lakes, where sometimes they come violently and out of unexpected directions. Still,  I was just bone tired. We had one five-leg race to get through and a long beat back to the harbor and we did it. But Ben owes me!!!  ;-) 

The thing about coming to an event like this is that you are duking it out with the best sailors from every club. That shows in conditions like yesterday. After an hour of racing in the kinds of wind and waves that really separate the sailors according to boat handling skills, the entire fleet finished within about one minute of one another. Incredible.

The best part of the day was getting off the water, going to lie down in Eric Bussell's "Flying Cot" in his regatta van while he, Chris Tesdal, Frank Gerry, and Bill and Lynn Bruss, among others helped Ben get the boat out of the water. Sometimes you just gotta say, "enough!". No, wait, that wasn't the best part of the day. The best part of the day was learning at the awards that Fleet 135 had, indeed, won the Fleet One trophy. Yay Us!! Eric took possession of the very impressive trophy because he thought his wife, Nancy, would love to see the trophy seeing as how her father, the late Steve Hartman, was on the trophy from the last time (30 years ago? I'll have to double check) that Fleet 135 won it.

Hearty applause were given to each trophy recipient, to the regatta organizers at Sail Newport and Massapoag yacht club (the host), but the loudest ovation went to regatta chair Diane Kampf, who, most of you already know, always works tirelessly all the time, no matter what. I think we got her to choke up a little, which is a great sign that she appreciated our appreciation!!

It's worth stopping for a moment to appreciate how well Fleet 135's performance reflects on the entire Midwest District. The district had more boats attending than many districts with very strong sailing programs. It's okay to take pride in that. Also, perhaps this is the place to mention that Eric Bussell has also agreed to step into the publicity chair position for FSSA. He's going to be awesome, he's such a natural. So, between him being publicity, me being magazine editor, Bronson initiating match racing, etc etc, I'd say the Midwest is going strong. We'll be hoping that many of you continue to contribute your efforts, particularly as next year's NACs, while not in Midwest per se, will be in Ohio and the Ohio District can really use our help. It's a big undertaking to host something like this. I don't have to tell you that (even though I am!). Many hands make light work. I don't need to tell you that, either.

Afterwards, we met John Aras in downtown Newport. John, who together with his crew, John Wake, placed second overall. We (Ben and me, the Benners, and Ryan and Stacey) ate at the Black Pearl. Best. Chowder. Ever. And the Thai crab cakes? OOTW (out of this world) Anyway, John  has spent so much time here and been on so many different kinds of boats that he is an honorary Newport native.

Even he commented that he'd never seen it blow this hard for this many days at Newport and that made me feel so much better. I was beginning to wonder! At the trophy presentation Diane had commented on the never ending wind and how they picked the week that, statistically, had the lightest winds. (HA!). But I still felt better hearing John comment about that too. It's been a weird summer weather wise, and this is just one more example, I guess. One nice thing is, with all the wind, even though the temps were in the 80s, I never got overheated.

Okay, I'm sure I've got more to say, but Ben and I have a couple hours to enjoy Newport (not on a boat) before we head home, so I'm signing off.

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