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view from the back

Paige Brooks gives us the view…

The doors of the plane opened and the humidity of the place enveloped me. I’d forgotten about the salty sweet smell of the air in Miami. For a $250 plane ticket, I couldn’t not fly down. The Etchells Jag Series started this past weekend, and while a lot of folks complain about slow boats, etc etc, it’s pretty top notch one design racing. For me, it was getting a chance to sail with and see some dear friends. The racing is great, but there’s something extra special about being aboard with friends.

When you walk into the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, a coral rock open air building that opens up to views of Biscayne Bay just out past their harbor, you can’t help but take a deep breath of the air and let go of life’s tension just a little. It was good to be back.

By Thursday night the first of the out of town teams were there and getting their boats set up and launched for a Friday practice race. By Saturday morning 52 boats were launched. I hadn’t started in a big fleet in a while and I was anxious at the thought of sticking the pointy end of the boat in between all these guys, but our skipper chose for a starboard end start and once someone tacked to leeward of us, there wasn’t room to bail and we got squeezed ou
We worked our way up the course and handled the boat well, but our course management could have been better. At crowded mark roundings we were able to make up a lot of boats only to lose them on the upwind legs. But that’s just my story. Overall, the course was shifty, the wind 8-10, the weather partly sunny. Pretty darned perfect.t. Call me schooled. That’s big fleet sailing lesson number one.

Race 2 was lighter than race 1, probably 6-8 knots. Again the RC called for 1.6nm windward leg with a slight right adjustment. We tried for a port tack approach, but couldn’t find a good hole to get in on the line. We were rescued by a general recall. We rolled right into a new sequence and got off a decent start. We tacked right to clear our air and worked halfway up the right side then went left. We came into the top mark on a port tack approach and were able to pick up some boats thanks to the current pushing the starboard guys away from the mark. Downwind we jibed left and saw we were near Dirk and his crew, which ultimately meant they were having a bad race. The RC shortened the course to 1.3nm, and we finished deep, but better than our first race.

Race 3 was even lighter, I swear it couldn’t have been 5 knots, but I don’t think David Breannan would start one in less than that. Off we went again on our 1.6nm mission in light shifty stuff. We got ping ponged twice by a port tack boat. That was bad. Being in the back of the fleet is not fun, unless you are with fun people and I was. But light air downwind is a hate mission. We couldn’t wait to crack open our beers and that we did as soon as we turned the corner at the finish line. Flip Wehheim and his crew won the day, with Jeff Seigal and crew close behind.

The Etchells are kept at four clubs, all virtually next door to one another making the after race party at the BBYC darned fun. The sun set, the tree lights went on, the sailors collected and the kegs were tapped. I learned a new term at the CRYC for ordering rum drinks without l

ime: ask for a rum and coke “NFL.”

We didn’t get any racing in on Sunday. A lot of boats were hoping to get 5 races in so they could drop one of Saturday’s races, but it didn’t happen. Dave held us on land and had two boats out in the bay checking for wind. As soon as it looked good for racing we went out, but the wind didn’t materialize. Still a fun day, and trophies were done by 4 o’clock leaving more time for racers to chat, collect themselves, and head to the airport.

Thanks for the fun….Until next time, Miami. Photo thanks to Marco Oquendo/imagesbymarco