FOUR DAYS, EIGHT BOATS, 12 flights, 45 matches, 30+ attendees from Boston, Canada, Russia and Rhode Island...did someone remember to grab the rum?! We’ll need it.
Last weekend, Oakcliff hosted our second “Clinegatta” of the season, a Grade 3 regatta and clinic coached by Sally Barkow*. It’s my first taste of a World Sailing (ISAF) graded match race, and eager was I to crush this first event and by association, the competition. Psych! Never mind, spoke too soon...I’m on mark boat/umpire duty for the weekend instead. What’s a racer to do on the water when not racing? What do I even DO with myself? Time to roll up your sleeves, ladies and gents - crushing the competition we are not, but crushing the lemons we are - IT’S LEMONADE TIME.
Racing is fun. Racing is exhilarating. Racing is challenging, exciting, tiring, #alltheadjectives. It allows for the glory, the fame, the trophies, the podium. What it doesn’t allow for however, is a truly objective perspective on your performance, your boat, your crew, and your competition. It’s the reason why Beyonce tapes every performance she gives, and let’s be honest - we can all stand to learn a thing or two from Queen Bey.
Sunday was fantastic. We picked up Flight 7 as carryover from Saturday; I was one of two “ride alongs” with lead umpire David Pelling. We saw it all that day - collisions, MOBs, screaming/yelling across boats and within boats, more lead changes in five minutes than I have fingers, upsets and unlikely victories...you name it, we saw it. Remember what I said about lemonade? Sure it’s a bummer I’m not racing, but objectively seeing dicey situations firsthand and studying what went down versus what should’ve gone down? NOT a bummer. This kind of off-the-boat perspective is what propels critical understanding of tactics and strategy to the next level, something that’s hugely impossible to do objectively whilst actively on boat. It’s what I meant above, with perspective on lemonade: sometimes we get what we want, sometimes we get what we don’t want, sometimes we get exactly what we want disguised as exactly what we don’t want.
Saturday was fun: 1) I drove a powerboat for the first time; 2) did mark duty for the first time; and 3) took over as (unintentional) resident comedian. Signal boat sent our windward boat to “dig” up some wind when things finally shut off around 1430, and perhaps this next bit is best told with an abbreviated recollection of the afternoon’s events....
SB: <after we’d all been sitting ducks for the last 1.5 hours> What do you think of the wind given your history of racing, sailing...being out on the water?
K: <pause> ...Oh, you mean my expertise?
<A few lines exchanged here with my “very accurate” (sans-anemometer) 2 to 4 knot TWS guesstimate, when signal asks us to look beyond the new weather mark that we’d just set for any signs of wind>
SB: How’s it look out there?
K: <pregnant pause> I can see my reflection from here.
Suffice it to say, I’d put the figurative nail in the coffin. We look east, towards the mooring field - our fleet’s already halfway back home. Mark boat does our mark boat duty, I zip past the fleet, tie up and head to the dock. Oklahoma (name changed to protect the innocent) meets me at the bottom of the dock.
O: Your commentary was hilarious!
K: ...What commentary?
O: YOUR commentary, over the radio today.
K: <very pregnant pause, while I turn bright pink> Oh...I didn’t realize that was being broadcast...to everyone.
Note to self: Read those SIs. Might save you the embarrassment, someday.
*Sally Barkow is the esteemed former Olympic sailor and Volvo Ocean Racer of Team SCA for VOR 2014-15, US Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year 2005 and 2007 and Women’s Match Racing World Champion 2004 and 2005, amongst many other achievements. Just google her – you won’t be disappointed.
About the author: SI contributor Kay Wang 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."
Other SI articles by Kang Wang: The Edlu Race from a different point of view