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The Not-So-Fast and the Furious

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The Not-So-Fast and the Furious

As reported last Thursday (Silver Lining), my short trip to sail singlehanders in Annapolis this weekend turned into a longer trip with a great opportunity to sail Etchells for the first day of the Annapolis NOOD  before heading back to Charleston.  It was a spectacular day – Annapolis at its best, and I enjoyed every minute on the water – though not necessarily all of it off the water.

First, the good part – the racing.  Since owner Robert Wray couldn’t sail his Etchells on Friday, tactician Scott Nixon slid back to the helm while bowman Mike Wolfe went to the middle spot.  I filled in as forward hand – nervous from the get-go as it’s been a long time since I’ve done bow on anything, let alone a boat I’d never sailed before.

I shouldn’t have been scared.  Nixon, one of the only pro drivers in Friday’s racing, easily got off the line and we worked our way up the course, rounding the mark in first with Jeff Siegal/Jeff Madrigali behind and Gary Gilbert/Jud Smith and Allan Terhune knocking at the door.  We hadn’t done much practice so I was a bit slow on the hoist, and I prepared to see Terhune roll us – but it didn’t happen.  Relieved, I played back the rounding in my head during the run, and realized why we didn’t get rolled; there is almost no acceleration in these boats, and they go roughly the same speed in every direction until you get in big waves.

We held on to take the bullet in Race 1 – a hell of a nice introduction to the Etchells for lucky me, and we continued on that program, picking up two more bullets and a 4 before the end of the day to lead by a nice margin over the next boat.  It was the kind of racing that I haven’t had the privilege of taking part in for a long time – no pressure, no yelling or screaming, just joking and laughing with one another all day long.  On the rail or in between races, the jokes and stories just kept coming, and I don’t think any of us stopped smiling all day long.