A Dose Of “Vitamin S”, The Hard Way

One who believed in omens would not have gone racing that day.

I call a day sail or a race, a “Dose of Vitamin S” because it inevitably revives my spirits when they are sagging and energizes both body and mind. It’s a good, easy physical workout in beautiful surroundings.

While rigging EDGE,¬†our 19′ Flying Scot sailboat at the Lake Eustis (FL) Sailing Club in mid-December, the mast fell on my right hand, bruising it badly enough that I could not race for several weeks. Then, while rigging for the first race in January, my new crew spotted a broken boom gooseneck (the fitting that holds the boom to the mast). No racing that weekend, either.

Finally, with my hand healed and the boom repaired, we rigged and went out for some LESC club races on January 21. These are small events, with fewer than a dozen boats in the Flying Scot class, but I wanted to do well. Last year, I seemed stuck in third place on most races and that wasn’t good enough.

As always, the excellent LESC Race Committee set a perfect course for us to sail and away we went. I got a good start and was second at the windward (first) mark. Then came the disaster: I messed up setting the spinnaker so badly that the entire fleet passed me. Despite passing a few boats on the next windward leg and then barely holding my own on the final run downwind to the finish, I was seventh out of ten boats. Truly bad.

At the second race, I miscounted the starting time and started dead last. I picked up a few boats on the subsequent legs of the race but still finished only sixth.

So my path to improvement is clear and simple:

1. Learn to set the spinnaker properly

2. Learn how to count down backwards from five.

It’s all so obvious now. You’d think I would have learned this from 66 years of sailing.