Sunday, September 21, 2008

The wind that was and the race that wasn't

I've come to the conclusion that all weather forecasters are clueless.

Boulder Yacht Club was sponsoring a race on Saturday so some of us had gathered in the club house the night before for dinner and to talk about the upcoming race. Discussions over dinner centered around the lack of wind that evening and whether the Saturday forecast of 5-10 would actually come to pass. You have to understand that sailors are an obsessive lot, obsessed with only one thing: wind. Clubhouse discussions are nearly always comprised of strong winds, knock-down gusts, hurricane remnants, microbursts, or the lack of any of the aforementioned. Come 8:30 or so, one of the guys left the building for a moment to use the facilities across the way. He returned with a big grin to inform us all that it was blowing - really blowing. Within 15 minutes we were crew for a night sail on a Catalina 27 owned and frequently sailed by Kort from a slip just a few down from Nomad. This being our first night sail at all, we had no frame of reference and were completely delighted to find ourselves racing across 2 ft waves in the pitch black, guided only by the compass, the GPS, and our combined knowledge of the lake. At some points we were heeled over to the point that I was very nearly standing vertical as I braced my feet on the opposite cockpit seat. Tim got to man the helm through most of the sail which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was working incredibly hard to keep the boat on course though. After an hour or so the wind started to settle a little, the moon came out, and we worked our way back to the marina wing-on-wing on a downwind breeze. It was absolutely the most fabulous sail we've had in a while, and completely (did I say "completely"?) un-forecast by the weather experts.

Saturday, race day, dawns with just the tiniest bit of movement in the clubhouse flag. Forecasters are still sticking to their 5-10 prediction, but unbeknownst to them, the wind had come and gone the night before. We headed out in Nomad to attempt the race course, only to give up a few hours later after only having completed one leg of the course, even with the drifter on.

The moral of the story is quite appropriate to many things in life. Don't pay any attention to the weather forecasters. When the wind blows, go sailing. If you wait till the planned race it may not be there, and you just might miss the best sailing ever.

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