THE FORECAST WAS promising enough: wind from the east, backing throughout the day to ENE, hovering around 25 knots with gusts 30+ later in the day, 8 to 10’ swells, temperature 45F give or take...oh, and rain. Lots of rain. Totally ideal conditions to start day one as an Oakcliff Sailing Sapling and the first long race of the season, Larchmont Yacht Club’s 2017 Edlu Distance Race. Right? Right!
It’s my first distance race and second race (period) this season. Ease into things, you say? Why, no thank you! I’m a bit of a sadist and if we’re being totally honest here (I think we’re there, my newfound friend, don’t you?), it’s probably why I love sailing so dang much.
A little background, as this is my first contribution. I’m relatively new to the sport; this is only my third season racing. But, I’ve had more boats than I’ve had serious boyfriends - J/24, J/92, J/120, First 36.7, First 42s7, Swan 44, Evelyn 26 and on this day, Oakcliff Sailing’s Columbia Carbon 32, WEEGIE. Does that mean I’m a total rookie? No, not by a long shot. Am I still learning? Absolutely!
SAILING ILLUSTRATED welcomes Kay Wang as our latest (and coveted) contributor. I'm "amped" to have her first story in what we hope will be a series of cool reports on her personal experience as an Oakcliff Sailing Sapling. I asked where she is in this nice Howie McMichael photo from last weekend's Edlu race. Kay said, LOL, "Second from the bow, the first yellow bobblehead." –TFE
I’ll spare you the day’s box score. Three and a half, almost four hours of grinding upwind going 6 to 7 knots on port tack for most the beat, hugging the right in building breeze to stay out of bad current and waves. We finally reefed around Bayville, turned the weather mark and flew the A4. In 50 minutes we covered what had taken us nearly four hours to sail upwind.
I realized two things that day: 1) Flying downwind at 23+ knots is basically a religious experience; and 2) God forbid, I missed having toe rails! Bruised thighs? No problem! Sure beats the hell out of using every dang muscle in your body for hours on end to avoid constantly sliding on a wet, slippery-as-hell, toe-rail-free deck. My thighs just got schooled, big time, by my back and shoulders.
Looking at me, you’d likely never guess I’m sartorially aware, I live in Brooklyn, I’m a “normal” person by day holding down a cushy office job where sitting in an Aeron chair is considered the pinnacle of corporate success. Do I come from a different background than the vast majority of my sailing peers? Well, try to remember the last time you saw an Asian girl pulling lines and yelling at the skipper, twice her age, as we're approaching the starting line seconds before the gun, "Bow down or we'll be OCS!" Yeah, thought so. Thus, to cannonball as I did into an immersive program like Oakcliff’s where my first experience is the Edlu in these kinds of conditions...well, see sadist admission, above. For anyone who knows me however, I’m a firm believer in whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and if there’s a will, there’s a way. So crashing into those 10 to 12’ swells I went. It’s only week one and so far, with so much to learn and so much potential on the horizon, I’m genuinely excited –yes, amped – to make sailing an even greater part of my life. Aeron chair? What Aeron chair? Give me a wet-ass deck with some toe rails under my thighs and let's do this!
And by the way, the Edlu? Count us in for a bullet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kay Wang, our latest SI Contributor, is chronicling her experiences while attending Oakcliff Sailing 2017 Sapling program. Her library covers only two topics – food and sailing. "If I can combine my love of tacos with my love for sailing, life would be complete."