Who’s Your Daddy?
After reading Soggy Cheetoh’s tale, I thought I’d tell my story of my first few weeks racing with the West River Catamaran Racing Association. I’m the guy in the 1985 powder blue Hobie 16 (with rainbow colored sails . . . circa 1972).
In early spring I was getting ready to sell my Hobie and put the proceeds to a much-needed retaining wall in my back yard (dare to dream!). By luck, another Hobie owner called me to ask how the sale was going. After a little prodding, she convinced me to check out the Fleet 15 group in Galesville. It wasn’t long before I got excited at the prospect of finding a great excuse to drink some beers on a Tuesday night . . . oh . . . and go sailing too. (half my backyard has washed away, but that’s another story for another day).
After enduring many hardships (including broken trailer axles, failed inspections, flat tires, etc.), I finally got my Hobie on the WRCRA lot. Nestled in-between a beautiful Tornado and a Super Cat, my Hobie looks a little out of place. Kind of like a single-wide in a sea of luxury double-wides. I’m not sure, but I thought I heard some chuckling when I arrived and maybe even a “there goes the neighborhood” comment.
It wasn’t long before I was out on the water, having an unobstructed view of the fleet in front of me. I didn’t care though. I had plenty of beer and plenty of time.
I even met another Hobie 16 owner there (Chris). Don’t let his boyish charm fool you. He’s a nice guy on land . . . . on the water, he’s a raging tyrant who’ll take your wind and your beer with no remorse.
By the 4th race, I was doubting whether I’d ever become any kind of contender. After all, I hadn’t even finished a race yet. I don’t mind coming in last, but jeez . . .I couldn’t even finish a race.
On the 5th race, the stars must have aligned, and the moon must have entered Jupiter’s orbit (or whatever the hell those psychics say) . . . the wind was a stead 15-20 knots (perfect weather for a Hobie 16 . . . so I’m told).
As fate would have it, I met Mark. Mark is a seasoned cat sailor and was looking to crew. More importantly, he was willing to show a lackey a thing or two about sailing. So I decided to be his ‘crew’ on my boat. He walked around my Hobie, pointing out all of the things that were wrong. We set the mast rake back, tightened all the lines, repositioned the halyards and were ready to go. I was as excited as a kid in a candy store . . I thought I just might finish a race today! Though, when Mark saw that I was missing the top-most batten in the jib, he shrugged his shoulders as if to say “what kind of sailor doesn’t have a . . . never mind”.
20 minutes later, we were jockeying for position on the starting line. Mark was at the helm and was providing plenty of guidance as to where to sit, look, breath, watch, and even fart. “Every puff of wind counts when you’re on a Hobie 16”, he said.
It was like
watching a ride from the back seat of a
I thought our position would be short-lived, but we were hanging with the big boats (for a little while, anyway). Mark was fishing for every bit of wind that was out there. “Sit here . . . no . . sit there .. wait . . . not so fast . . . sheet in . . . no not that much . . . why don’t you just try sitting on the front corner”.
Fortunately for me, there was a strong steady breeze. If it were any lighter, I think Mark would’ve kicked 200lbs of “dead weight” (as he referred to it (me)) overboard. “We’re sitting awfully low in the water”, he said. I insightfully commented that it “must be all the extra lines and the trampoline getting wet”. Mark had a different take, responding, “or it could be that double whopper with cheese I saw you eating on your way in . . . did you really have ‘biggie’ size it?” . (Yes I did, by the way).
through the race, we were in good contention for a decent finish (factoring in
It came on like a bad case of the trots. Two other cat’s capsized immediately. Our Hobie took it well, though. “Shouldn’t we go help them out”, I said. “Just sheet in and quit flappin’ those gums” Mark responded, “those guys have capsized before and they know what they’re doing”.
We took full advantage of the storm winds as we rounded the ‘P’ marker. The moment we started heading on a leeward tack, we took off like a rocket. I couldn’t believe it. We were teetering to and fro as we skipped across the water at a break-neck speed.
I looked over at Mark and he had a sort of glazed look in his eyes. I even thought I saw lightning bolts reflecting in them. It was like he was in a trance. He was working the rudder, tending to the main sheet, shimmying to the left, shimmying to the right, barking orders, repositioning the traveler . . . he was in the ‘zone’, as they say.
Needless to say, we cut the race short to avoid being electrocuted. All sailors made it in safely, I’m happy to report.
I’ve been back just about every Tuesday since, and I’ve even finished a few races. The Tuesday night races are a bit of an adventure every week. They’re something I’ve grown to look forward too and I’m not sure what I’m going to do when the season ends. I guess I’m on my way to becoming a die-hard catamaran sailor.
So if you’re considering racing your catamaran, pick up a 12 pack of your favorite beer and come join us. It wouldn’t hurt you to give one or two of those beers to your friendly Hobie 16 sailor. A double-whopper with cheese would go a long way too.
As for my boat . . . well . .I’ve never been able to look at it the same way since. When the day comes that I do sell it, I’m going to have to say it was used . . . with a capital U. Ashamed after this one-night-stand, Mark hasn’t shown up since this episode. It’s always “I’m goona to be outta town” or “I can’t make it tonight” . . . always a story . . . typical.
Editors note: Please note that there were some mild embellishments in this story. The evidence of any flatulence has not been verified by independent sources. Furthermore, it’s never actually been proven that said flatulence can actually increase speed on a Hobie. Everything else is pretty damn accurate.