Friday was practice day. Started with bunches of Lasers and me looking and feeling like I hadn’t sailed a boat in years. Ended with a screaming reach and a spectacular landing that turned uninterested bystanders into active participants defending their boats, trying to catch my boat, and a crash that dropped the rig on Doug and then came to rest on the rocks. Lovely! Couldn’t wait to see what the start of the regatta would bring.
Saturday the wind was predicted to be from 8 to 12 so I opted to sail a full rig. Mistake one. Wind from 8 to 12 does not take gusts into consideration. I managed two races without collisions or tipping and I think I actually finished with boats behind me. At one point early in the first leg of the first race, I actually had Eric Faust cross behind me and Doug just barely ahead of me. Turns out they’d gone the wrong way and didn’t have a good race but went by me like I was sitting still and worked their way through the fleet. After the lunch break, it seemed a little colder, it started to sprinkle and I had been hiking most of the morning so I convinced myself that it was going to pour down rain and they’d all get out there and not race and I’d be the smart one on shore all dry and warm. Mistake two. They needed umbrellas on one end of the course and sunblock on the other. When everyone landed they said it was great and I’d missed out.
Sunday the wind was predicted to be from 3 to 15 but wasn’t going to build until we were off the lake. I chose a full rig again. Mistake three. My kind of wind and we were headed up the first leg of the first race and Scott Young wasn’t too far ahead of me. And then it happened ... dark water ahead and Scott suddenly hiked all the way out and I knew what came next. The blast hit and I hiked all the way out and the gust was over as soon as it hit and I was in the water and the boat was trying to get away. I climbed back in and saw another guy just below me and his boat was over and he was in the water. Not too shabby. I went swimming but didn’t tip. The wind kept building and I managed to finish the race and opted to stay on the course rather than venture from the pack and attempt to go in by myself. Mistake four. Doug later told me that the wind was gusting from 20 to 25 in the first race. I sailed half of the second race hanging on for dear life with lots of screaming. I rounded up about twenty yards from the leeward mark and realized there was no way I could turn the boat down and round that mark. I’d hit my limit and I was done and the club was directly upwind across the lake. I made it back to the boat ramp without significant incident and had a beautiful landing but no one was around to witness it.
I’m told the racing at the front of the fleet was some of the best they’ve had in Austin in years with the top 3 places changing almost every leg. Scott Young won overall and tied Doug for the handicap racing with Doug getting the tie. I won the prettiest bunny of all simply for enduring the ride to and from Austin in the same vehicle as Doug.
It was a weekend of testing my limits. When I first started sailing a Butterfly I did alot of screaming and was out of control alot of the time but that gradually changed. I don't know if I'll see the same change in the Laser since I'm about 50 pounds too light for this boat but I won't know if I don't try.