April 09, 2012

2012 Easter Laser Regatta

by Pam

The Easter Regatta is the kickoff circuit stop for Laser District 15. Somehow, this event seems to set the tone of my sailing for the entire year. Last year it was super windy. I bailed and Doug sailed and that scenario repeated itself many times throughout the year with it being a light year of sailing for me. As a result, this was my first time back at the helm solo in the Laser since the week before last Easter.

I had a very simple goal of actually sailing in the regatta and trying to start and finish every race and stay upright. Being a light female presents a dilemma. I have a choice of sailing with my age (full rig) or sailing with my size (radial or 4.7). Sailing with my size means a mostly junior fleet. Unappealing because youth has many advantages ... they don’t feel pain, they don’t get tired, and they don’t have enough sense to know when they are in over their heads. Sailing with my age group has many advantages for me but if the wind picks up like it did last year, a girl my size simply can’t get a full rig to go upwind and downwind is sheer terror with pitch poling being very likely. Luckily, the wind was in my range this year so my choice of a full rig was a simple one. For future reference, I did hear a wind forecast interpretation from Fred that was fairly enlightening. 0 to 5 means no wind. Anything with 15 as the top end, means they don’t have a clue and anything can happen. Anything with 15 to something more means windier than shit.

So, by lunch time on Saturday, I had tried to hang Norm and had also come to the realization that, being the only female sailing a full rig, I’d already won top woman. There was a passing thought of calling it a regatta and taking a nap but my goal was to sail each race and the Norm thing was bugging me. I was so rusty that when I was coming into the leeward mark and Norm was coming away on a collision course with me, I looked at him and immediately said to myself, starboard leeward. And somehow after saying it to myself, I decided I was starboard leeward instead of him. Two legs later when I did it again with a junior the light went on and I realized my brain was malfunctioning. Quite obviously, my light year of sailing was showing.

We raced 5 races on Saturday and there were 4 different race winners so the top spot was up for grabs but Sunday’s weather was predicted to be very light. By Sunday morning, I was acutely aware of the bones in my behind and was repeatedly reminded every time they came in contact with the tender tissue in my tushy. Goals be damned, I didn’t want to sail. But then I saw the results and I was actually ahead of a couple of guys from Dallas so my 100% certainty of not sailing came down to about 98%. And then Scott Young changed everything.

I was helping Doug rig his boat and he turns and says loud enough for Scott to hear, ‘decision time, are you sailing or not?’ Scott, hearing Doug, says to me ‘why wouldn’t you sail, it’s your wind?’ I had a whole laundry list of reasons not to sail. I had sailed with a migraine all day Saturday and I sprained my wrist on a malfunctioning vang and I have no patience for light air. It’s not my wind. But there stood Scott a few feet away, older than me, having faced many of the same health issues as me over the years and he’s looking all healthy and vibrant and alive. It was a pivotal and rather symbolic moment for me. Most people’s life expectancy far exceeds their health expectancy. The difference of those many years often comes down to moments just like these and the choices we make. That 72 year old great grand master world champion that I watched and admired so much in Australia just a few weeks prior didn’t get to that age and that state of health by sitting on shore. I didn’t have to say a word to Doug. He just headed for my boat and started rigging. A few minutes later I was indeed returning to the scene of the crime and playing human origami and folding myself back into the Laser for more. I moaned and groaned but by the end of the day, even though we floated for hours and didn’t race, I actually felt better than when I’d started.

I realized this weekend that I will turn 50 next year. Somehow, that doesn’t seem possible. At 61, Doug noticed that he was the oldest competitor in the regatta. Even though he was 4th overall, he was also the winner after applying age handicaps. Doug had a full physical today and his resting heart rate was 45. His doctor said he’s doing something very right. From what I’ve seen, he simply goes sailing when others sit on shore ... and I if I want to live as long as he does, I’d better get used to doing the same.

See you at the Nationals Scott ... after all, why wouldn’t you sail.

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