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Sunday, April 21, 2019

April 21, 2019-Fun Sailing in April

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Wings Sailing

Over the VHF radio a call to the fleet is heard, “This is Wings, the rabbit, we are five minutes from the mark. To all you racers out here, be prepared to turn around in five minutes when you see Wings heading back.”

That is the sound of fun on Wednesdays these days, impromptu pursuit races where the fleet chases whoever is in front until the boat in front reverses course and chases them.

It sounds silly and sort of useless, but we love it.

That is because when we are coming into La Cruz in our car and we get a view of the bay and it is filled with whitecaps and green water the urge to get back to the boat and out on the water is strong. That happens a lot, so we love it when we get to go out. While officially our racing is over for the year there are still many great sailing days in March and April. We just cannot give them up. We have this feeling that in our lives there are only so many good sailing days allotted to us and we regret missing even one.

Too often, however, we let these great sailing days slide past, unused. We stay tied to the dock, doing our boat chores or just passing time. Sometimes Judy and I will take a walk around to the beach to watch the waves. Usually, though, we are just looking forward to the next time we can get out there.

“If not today, then how about next Wednesday?”

So, lately, we’ve been going out on Wednesdays for these impromptu races. We call these sessions beer can races, the same name we used for the slightly more formal Wednesday races we had during the season.

But they are hardly races. We do have a start line and a timed start. But after that it’s just sailing.

Because these “races” are so silly we all just have fun and since we all go one way for a while, then turn around at the same time and come back, it hasn’t taken long for us to figure out that the slowest boat on the outbound leg has the least distance to go on the return. There is even the suspicion that one could sandbag a little on the outbound leg so as to have less distance to go to get back. But we don’t think anyone is doing that. Just sailing is so much fun, why waste it going slow?

On Wings we have been very casual about these Wednesdays. Whoever shows up gets to go. We’ll go with five people or ten. We’d even go if it was just Judy and I. But the crews have been fun and we sail pretty well. Often we wind up being the “rabbit”. And usually someone else is first back to the finish line. Who cares? It gives us a chance to congratulate them. Everyone gets to feel good.

The winds have been terrific this month. We’ve been getting nice westerly’s in the high teens and low 20’s. The racing sails are already in storage, and the only spinnaker we have is a 25 year old, beat up, ¾ oz sail Eddie Fracker made for us which was retired as a racing sail years ago. Even sailing with a reduced size Dacron mainsail and a small jib we’ve been able to go fast, and since the only spinnaker sail is pretty tired we don’t put it up in strong breezes; it wouldn’t last. Besides, these races are so short that there isn’t much time on the return trip to get a spinnaker up, the jib down, and do a jibe before we’ve already finished the race.

Well, we did it once, last Wednesday, and it was tight. I told the crew, “OK vacation is over, today we will set the spinnaker.” Which we did, but we barely got it up when it was time to take it down. It was still fun, though, and that is what Wednesdays are all about these days: Fun.

So, soon we’ll be into summer, hopefully Wings will be somewhere out cruising in Mexico, and the racing will truly be over for this season, but at least we’ll know we didn’t waste too many of the great sailing days.

Click here for a few more images.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Mexico

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