Slow Boat To ChiTown

Clean Report

Slow Boat To

It’s been a couple of years since I raced on a true porker of a boat,
but when Bora Gulari and some other old friends invited me to come sail
the Beneteau
36.7 North American Championship
this week in Chicago, I figured,
“why not?” After all, Mer and I were already on our way
up to Detroit to visit friends and family, and owner Phil O’ Neill is
a good racer and someone I respect, so I bit the 6 knot-shitbox bullet
and made my way to Lake Michigan what I thought would be a low-pressure
regatta on a warm lake at the end of the summer. No drama, just good
fun, right? Wrong. Not about the fun – we’ve had plenty of laughs, as
you’d expect from a group of immature sportboat, scow and dinghy sailors
screwing around on a heavy cruising boat. We’ve enjoyed ourselves despite
some weak results on the first day, but there’s been plenty of drama
floating around. For instance:

Class Warfare
The first big mess was entirely of my own doing. Bora’s call came just
a couple of weeks ago, and I needed a current ISAF classification to
compete. A little research showed that my classification was ‘under
review’ and I was meant to answer some of the UK-based Classification
committee some questions…8 months ago. I answered their questions
from home in Charleston, hoping for a quick response. That’s not really
how things work in England though, and I spent hours on the phone with
the incredibly polite, molasses-slow folks at ISAF answering question
after question – each a further indication of just how broken
the current system is.

On our Charleston-Detroit drive I continued to call ISAF, spending
my last two hours before arriving trying to convince a kind brit and
SA fan about my writing. Still nothing. My crew called every few minutes,
“is it done?” Not until 6 AM on the first day of racing
did I receive a skype message from Alastair Fox at ISAF, “Check
your email – your classification is complete.”