My Daily Sailing Routine
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.”
- John F. Kennedy
The waves in Buzzards Bay are crashing over the bow, while water is dripping down my face I am yelling “get on the trap!” to my crew. I am holding on to the main sheet in my left hand and the tiller in my right hand. I glance up at the tell tails which indicate the wind direction and I make slight adjustments for the shift in wind direction. Our sails fill with wind and we surge passed the boat next to us. I feel the excitement of being in my first regatta in a 420. This was the time for me to put all of my hard work together to compete. Yet racing was only part of why I loved my summer sailing class.
Sailing class was every morning from 10:30 am until 12:30 pm. We each sailed a boat named a C420. This boat is for two people with two sails and a third sail that can be hung on the down wind leg of a race. Every morning I would wake up, bike to sailing and meet my friends there. We would pull the boats down to the shore line and started rigging.
My crew who is my partner in my boat, helps me rig our boat while the others rig theirs. After that we put the boats into the water and jump in. We sail out to Buzzards Bay. This is a hard task because usually the mainland is blocking the wind causing weird and sporadic gusts of wind. Once we are out in the bay we start to practice different sailing tactics such as tacking on the whistle, mark rounding and capsizing. Even though no one wants to think about capsizing you do have to practice righting the boat.
One thing we worked on a lot was trapping. Trapping is when the crew (who has a harness on) stands up on the railing of the boat and clips into a hook connected to the mast. This makes it so they can put all of their body weight out of the boat. This is only done in heavy wind to keep the boat flat. Another skill we worked on was flying the spinnaker, which is the third sail. First, the crew will put the spin pole up, which helps with flying it. Second, they grab the two spin sheets. Then the Skipper (me) will pull the spin halyard which raises the sail. The crew will fly this sail until the downwind mark is reached. Then it will be taken down and put in the basket. The last thing we practiced extensively was how to start a race.
One of the most important parts of a race is a start. If you can get a good start it is a huge advantage for the rest of the race. At the start, there is a committee boat and pin (a buoy) which marks the starting line. You are given 3 or 5 minutes depending on the race until the horn is blown signaling go. One of the two, either the boat or the pin is favored which means it is where it is best to start. You have to think about where you want to start before the horn blows and the race is started. If you are over the line before the horn you have to go back to the line and cross it again before continuing the race.
At the end of summer, I competed in a regatta called the Wild Harbor Invitational and although I didn’t win I had a ton of fun racing. The experience taught me that practice makes perfect and that I just need to keep working on my sailing skills to get better. Even though I did practice for sailing races I also just love spending my summer on the water. Sailing is fun for me and it helps me learn about what I am capable of. It reminds me of a quote from a painting in my grandparents house that says “there is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing around on boats.” I discovered that this is a quote from The Wind and The Willows by Kenneth Graham. I completely agree that being on boats is the best way to spend a summer day.