Race-A-Peril

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After we got back from the triathlon, we were planning on sailing a full moon race. I was rather excited to check two races in one day off of my bucket list.

But the strong winds from the morning of the triathlon increased throughout the day making sailing conditions very treacherous. We thought the race would be cancelled but never found out for sure since we spent the evening in the ER instead.

But that will be a story for another day..

I typically compete in triathlons or running. My husband races our sailboat. Sometimes our race paths intersect and I can be found on the water and he on land.

Last night I was part of my husband’s sail race crew along with our friend Jerry. It was a lot cooler and windier than we thought it would be. We were sailing in rough conditions with 3 to 4 foot waves.

For a time, we were slightly ahead of a boat that always wins. They were alongside of us and fell back after we turned.

We were headed on a straight course to the first buoy in the race when disaster struck.

I knew something was wrong when, just like that, we were hurled off course.

A pin snapped. The rudder broke. We spun in violent circles while being struck by waves that rocked our boat and crashed upon the bow. The boom swung and the wind whipped our sails. A line from the main sail broke free and was swirling around overhead like a lasso.

Paul started the outboard motor. The rudder smacked back and forth into the motor’s propeller. Jerry and I worked on getting the jib sheet in as we spun in circles. Then Paul struggled to get the boat in irons to take down the main sail. Then the guys lifted the heavy rudder out of water while trying to maneuver the boat.

After taking the main sail down, the situation became less perilous. But we weren’t out of the woods(?) yet. Paul had to steer the boat back in to the harbor without a rudder. He had to rely on the small outboard motor. His arm was sore from the waves and strong winds that he had to arm wrestle his motor against.

To get back we had to go against the flow. The boats that were racing behind us were coming towards us to get to the racing buoy.

Finally we were able to limp back to shore. Paul had to steer the boat into our slip and it wasn’t going to be easy. There were rugged rocks and a cement wall to navigate around in the strong wind. He hollered to shore for help…but he was able to get us into our slip like a pro.

There were other boats with problems last night.

Another boat had issues and started to come into the slip sideways almost colliding with nearby boats.

The wind ripped another sailboat’s spinnaker in half.

It was the most exciting race ever!

I was happy that the rudder didn’t give out when we were alongside the other boat…we might’ve crashed. Also, the ER visit prevented us from racing this last weekend if the strong winds wouldn’t have. If the rudder broke at dusk 5 miles from shore in strong winds and waves who knows what could’ve happened!

I had a great time. There was no lasting damage. The problem is relatively inexpensive to fix. No one panicked, got hurt, or died last night.

After it was all over, we had a drink and reminisced about our previous perilous sail when we were beginner sailors…the accidental overnight sail…(maybe I will share the story with you all again). Jerry said it was one of the top ten memorable stories of his life. It was one of mine too.

I will not forget last night either.

I love adventure, but I am not a big risk taker.

I have to say that there is something totally exhilarating about challenges that push my mind, body, and stamina to its limits to get through…A sense of danger…Flirtation with failure.

Racing…competing…how I love the thrill of it!

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

No race is ever the same…even if it is the same race.

We didn’t finish the race, but we survived the night.

I will count that as a win.

 

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