Friday, August 9, 2013


Tuesday August 6, 2013

Another awesome day for a sail, with steady 20 knot winds from the northwest. With this much wind and no sign of it backing off, we decided on course 1 again. On Pair A DIce, we decided to do a port tack start right at the pin and ended up following Pacific Spirit right on the line. Iris and Tessa (Hugh Rideouts boat) started two minutes before us. Aeolian started on starboard and went a short distance, then tacked over on a track further outside than us, but slightly behind us. There was enough wind that the bad wind from Pacific SPirit did not seem to slow us down much. We headed lower trying to roll Pacific Spirit to leeward. By the time we got to Wharf mark, Aeolian rounded first with Pacific Spirit right behind. Pair A Dice was a distant third followed by Iris and Diver Down.

By the time we rounded Mile, Pacific Spirit and Aeolian still had their lead on us, but seemed to take different paths to Blacks. Aeolian apparently thought the finish mark was Blacks and rounded the wrong mark. Pacific Spirit took a wide turn around Blacks, and we took a closer turn but Pacific SPirit still rounded in front of us (again). As it ended up Pacific Spirit crossed the line comfortably ahead of us, with Pair A DIce coming in second. Aeolian eventually discovered their error and came back to round BLacks with DIver Down and Iris. From our perspective, it looked like DIver Down was third and Iris was fourth.

Tactically, Aeolian did great starting on starboard and going outside to get clear air. Until their error thinking start was Blacks, they sailed a perfect race. Our thought was that with the wind being only slightly more outside, we could take advantage of flatter water inside, but this gambit did not work for us.

We met at the Crows nest afterwards for dinner. Normally, Mark and the crew from Aeolian are the first ones there, but this night they were not. It was not until Vance showed up and asked if Paul was ok that we found out what happened. As it turns out, in the rounding of Blacks, as Aeolian jibed around the mark, Paul caught the boom square on his forehead. Mark had to rush in and take Paul to the Emergency room. After x-rays and tests, it turns out Paul is ok other than being a little shaken and a few stitches.


Whenever a misshap happens at sea, I believe most sailors have a knee-jerk reaction and think "these guys are rookies, and this could never happen to me because I'm smarter...". This goes for all misshaps, from the tragic loss of "Low Speed Chase" on the Farallons to a simple scraped knee. Suffice it to say, if an accident can happen on Aeolian, it can happen to any of us.

To some of us, safety is automatic and others of us give little thought to it. I try to be the former but frequently find myself in the latter camp. An example is when we went to San Diego in 2010. We left the harbor on a Friday night in a heavy fog. The ocean was very calm like a lake and we motored out of the harbor. As we exited the harbor, Mark set the rules for the trip: everybody not in the cabin, must have a lifejacket on and tethered in at all times. At the time, I respected this edict, and felt remiss in the fact that it wasn't me that had made it. Time and again, Mark has advised me about things that are not safe, always thinking about safety.

I always make certain during a race, that everyone wears life jackets, but what good does a life jacket do if it has a pull cord and you are not conscious? How often do auto inflate life jackets inflate accidentally rendering you immoveable and useless? After this incident with Paul, I think I will take my chances with a non inflate life jacket. Better to be a little uncomfortable and know your life jacket will work if needed.

In racing, we often get caught up in the action and we do things we would never think of doing in a normal situation. Someone once told me that after years of racing, he was finally ahead of all the boats that normally beat him. Suddenly, a wave swept the deck and a spinnaker was swept overboard. He confessed that for about 10 seconds he was thinking "its just a spinnaker, forget about it" before reality set in and he went back and got it. Would "Low Speed Chase" have sailed inside of a surf line if there wasn't a race on? My point is that we should all strive for safety, even more in racing situations.

Stefan is a crew member of mine that is our mainsheet trimmer. When we jibe, he always announces to the crew in a very loud voice, so everyone can hear, "heads down! JIBING". There is no question what is happening. Stefan constantly has his eye on the masthead fly and will aprise all of us whenever we are "SAILING BY THE LEE", letting us know to keep an eye out for an accidental jibe.

Sail safe and we will see you next Tuesday.


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  2. DianaAugust 11, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    I am very sorry to hear that someone was injured during our race, but glad to know that he is going to be okay.

    You mentioned that Pacific Spirit took a "wide turn" around Blacks. We did so because we were having a little drama of our own. We were not able to bring the jib around at the mark as the wire that pulls open the jaws of the whisker pole was stuck inside the jaws with the jib sheet. Kathy and Fred struggled and struggled with it; eventually Jeff, our helmsman, said that we were running out of water, and he wanted us to just cut the line (it had a very tight stopper knot on it, which I had been trying unsuccessfully to undo). Fortunately, Jeff had a knife in his pocket, so we cut the line and were able to bring the jib around. And even more fortunately, this little snafu did not cost us the race!

    The lesson for us is to keep those pocket knives handy.

    (Note: I removed the previous comment to correct a typo.)