Sunday, May 10, 2009

The 5 hour crunch

2 years ago when we took our first ASA sailing course we were completely hooked and had absolutely no boat to sail on. We discovered that the Carlyle Sailing Association had a bulletin board that you could post your name on for racers that needed crew. We never heard from anyone, and to be totally honest, I had forgotten we were still even on the list. This past week we got an email from one of the racers that he needed a crew member and would either of us be interested? Tim agreed to go. We went to the lake on Friday as usual and he was to drive over to the other side of the lake to meet them early Saturday morning. Enter stage left...Flu Strain of the 3:00am variety, 2 and a half hours of extreme familiarity with a Walmart-bag-lined trash can and the decidedly unpleasant feeling of being sick on a rolling boat, and Tim was obviously not in any condition to go racing by 9:00 am. I agreed to go in his place. Let the adventures begin! I arrived at the marina an hour early to check things out and to give Erik,the owner of the racing boat, the chance to gracefully bow [pun intended] out of the arrangement if he chose to. Here's the boat -

He was kind enough to put me at ease and tell me that they are very laid back [his pun intended you'll see in a minute] and mostly like to have fun. We began the 2 hour process of launching the boat via a large crane (with a very cool electric winch to raise and lower the boat into the water off the dock) and once in the water, to practice a few tacks and get to the starting line. Just so you get an idea of what's involved in sailing one of these here's a YouTube video of the same type of boat, although it's not the specific boat I sailed on:

I very quickly discovered that the fact that the 2 other crew members' ages added together were less than my age was going to have a rather pertinent bearing on my experience. As you can see in the video, you spend very nearly all the time with your feet hooked in straps on the bottom of the boat to anchor you while you lean way OUT of the boat, putting you in a horizontal position with nothing to hold you but your stomach and leg muscles. Imagine doing crunches for 5 hours straight and you get the general idea. The only time you are NOT doing this is when you're scrambling under the boom and flopping yourself down on the other side of the boat during a tack, all of this through about 3 inches of water that has poured into the boat while the gunwales were in the water (most of the time) and trying not to slip on several hundred feet of lines spread out in the bottom of the boat like a giant pile of spaghetti. You non-sailors might say, "I don't get the big deal - you've been sailing your own boat now for a whole year" and you would be justified in commenting, but comparing the Nomad to the Viper would be like comparing a Volkswagen bus to a Lamborghini.

It was at once one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done in a while and this 53 year old gramma of 3 is very thankful to Erik for the opportunity. Racing along at 12.75 knots six inches above the waves is a rush this rush junkie won't forget soon. Here is a picture of my two compatriots for the day, Joel is on the left and Erik, the owner of Rascal 2.0 is on the right.

And a picture they asked me take to advertise the boat:

For those of you who might like to read some more about this type of boat, you can go to

All in all it was a great Mother's Day weekend. I was exhausted though, I hurt in places I didn't even know I had, and on a night sail we took later last evening with some friends I fell soundly asleep. By the way, I was feeling a little guilty about having so much fun while Tim was languishing sick on the boat...till I got back to the marina to find that he was not only up and about, but had spent a few hours sailing a trimaran with some friends of ours at the marina.

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