Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Screwpile? Sweatpile!

Ok, so most sailors on the Chesapeake know that the summer doldrums hit about mid-July through August--there's usually just no wind!  And you'd think that a lot of us would say "fogettabout it!" & some of us actually do, but not me or Xing Fu or about 123 boats who converge on Solomons Island, MD for the Screwpile Regatta in mid-July.  But this one was a HOT one--(shout-out to one of my sailing friends--C, for the phrase "sweatpile") 'cause I for one sweated gallons--couldn't get enough Gatoraid in me. Anyhow, as per usual there was a lot of flukey wind--day one was pretty good, day two was pretty crappy, & day three was mixed (at least for the West circle).  Poor Xing Fu on the North circle really got screwed (heh).  His RC (Race Committee) just couldn't figure it out. And after making them bob even longer than we did, they sent them on a 1.1 nautical mile course only to abandon race just as his boat was to the weather mark.  And then for them, that was it!  

On the West circle, I have to give it to our RC--yeah, we bobbed for a couple hours first thing after we motored out to our circle, but they really worked hard to find us steady enough wind above 4 knots of wind.  And eventually, we were able to get a race off--not the 4 legs, but shortened to 2.  And then we bobbed again waiting for air.  Instead of just giving up, the RC talked to the South circle & found out that the breeze was filling in nicely--apparent wind to at least 8 knots & gusting higher--just a few more bobs & then we'd get a second race in. And we did--4 legs & a very exciting start--near collisions (not with our boat) & protests--always good for an adrenaline rush! Despite the heat & waiting, a good finish to three days of racing.

And I didn't even have a ride when I got down to Solomons!  Talk about taking a chance.  It had been a real struggle to find a ride for Screwpile--both Xing Fu & I tried to find one for me but to no avail.  A lot of skippers that I know told me to just go down there & that I might be able to catch something for Monday & Tuesday as a lot of folk can't take off those days (ah, being a 10 month employee has its advantages!).  I was fully prepared to find something to do on Sunday around the island while Xing Fu sailed (shore wife--so NOT what I wanted) but I got lucky.  Xing Fu's skipper walked a few slips down the dock on Sunday morning & said that he had extra crew could they use someone?  And there it was--I had a ride for all three days.  Now I was fully prepared to be rail meat or something like that but instead I was really needed for jib & spin trim (not just pole) on a Tartan 10 with only 4 crew--and as I've stated before, sometimes you mesh as a crew & sometimes you don't--this was a case of a very good fit for all of us.  Problem being, they are from Deltaville, Va.--a little far to travel for Wednesday night races & weekends.  But perhaps I'll go down for Southern Bay Race Week next year--looks like I have a ride already!  It was so nice to be back on the spinnaker trim--and to do a good job--we heard the pack coming up behind us (there's that tell-tale water-coming-off-the-bow noise that grows louder) on one of our downwind legs & I was able to move us ahead significantly--even better it was away from I boat that I used to race against on the West River! My skipper told me how pleased he was with my trim--especially on the kite--I really needed that confidence injection.

But one of the most important aspects of participating in Screwpile has naught to do with sailing.  It is the 3-day mini vaycay that Xing Fu & I have together doing what we love (even if it isn't on the same boat).  In an email I wrote to Xing Fu, " ...these trips we take together seem to be very good for injecting the appreciation for one another back into our relationship--something we've been struggling with because of all of our life adjustments recently."  So true.

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