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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

September 10, 2006-Starting Over

Wings' new crew

When we move to a new country and want to start racing we have find a new crew.

We need 10 people to properly sail this boat, and with the two of us, that means we have to find eight other fools willing to beat themselves up week after week on an old race boat, chasing after a little line on a race results sheet that says; “1st”.

Finding crew is sometimes hard, but we’ve always been able to do it, and we’ve always wound up with great crew.

Back in Seattle we had a consistent crew for eight years and they won us a lot of races.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times that crew pulled off a boat handling miracle that got us ahead of somebody else with a less capable crew.

We loved them, and we let them know it. Not only could they sail the boat with perfection, the Wing’s crew became part of our family and in that family we had marriages, kids, grandkids, even lover’s spats. We saw youngsters grow up and become adults, we saw beginners become experts, and we saw oldsters put off retirement for just a few more races because we told them we couldn’t do it without them; I would still hug each and every one of them if I had a chance.

Since we’ve left Seattle, and we’ve had to find pick up crew in eight countries. Most of those crews, all of them really, have also been wonderful.

In Port Vila, in 20 knots of wind in a crowded starting area, when we blew out our genoa with 3 minutes to go, the crew we picked up off of cruising boats there got the torn sail off and set the #3 in time for the start. We got second in that race.

In Hong Kong we took on a bunch of newcomers to sailing, and they showed the local old hands a thing or two. They consistently won races for us in variety of conditions. In Mexico, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia we’ve also found super folks who signed on for a race or a season.

Now we are in Singapore, and we are starting over again. It’s tough work this time, as it always is, to find crew, to get them committed to a season, and to get them trained on Wings. The first practice is always a bit rough. The first heavy weather jibe in a race is even worse, but we know that before long this crew, like all the others, will gel into something beautiful, into a smoothly functioning team, and into a family. And when that happens, that’s when racing becomes really fun.

So, we don’t mind starting over with a new crew; that’s what leads to some of the best rewards of sailing.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Singapore

Click on the image above to see the names of the crew members on or first practice in Singapore.

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