Monday, September 04, 2006

A day at the race...

Today the annual Labour Day regatta, called "The Brown Jug" (guess what the trophies are :) took place on the bay where we sail. It's sponsored by the 2 remaining one-design clubs on the bay & has been held since 1952. I mentioned in this post that B had almost sailed his first sailboat race with his dad & granddad just a couple of weeks ago while we were on vacation, but were rained out. We have never done the Brown Jug regatta before, mostly due to B being too young to be entertained for such a long race (usually the full length of the bay twice around) in a small (15-foot) boat, but this year C & B decided to go for it :) We had been talking about opportunities for B to race, since C has a regular crew for fleet racing (& a championship title to defend), & the Brown Jug seemed perfect. It's a multi-club, multi-fleet, handicapped race (meaning that they stagger the starts according to how fast the class of boat is, so that everyone has the chance to win) that no-one takes too seriously, which makes it a lot of fun & perfect for a beginning sailor. When we mentioned that, the race being so long, they could probably bring along a small cooler of drinks & snacks B was ready to sign on the dotted line :) So, this morning at 11:30 my guys took off for the club to get ready for the race. I stayed at home, cooking soup for dinner, since grammie was going to come over, & doing laundry (it is still Monday...).

I headed over to the club & got there about 2:00, just as my guys were sailing past the club (I could see the number on the sail) on the leeward leg of the race. I said hi to a few folks & settled in with my knitting to figure out where they were in the fleet. I couldn't see any othe Snipes around & thought B & C might be in the lead for the Snipes. (There is a Brown Jug awarded to the winner for each fleet plus an overall Brown Jug trophy, with small keeper trophies for skipper & crew for 1-3 places in each fleet.) I thought it would be so neat if they took the fleet trophy for B's first race :) The Opti fleet was coming in just about then, the kids singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall" as they sailed in, to much hilarity (Optis are kid-sized boats, smaller than a sunfish, with a cute, gaff-rigged sail & very safe to learn to sail in). The Opti's had started first on a short course & had 2 races before coming in. B actually has an Opti (short for "Optimist Pram"- you can understand the need for a nickname) but enjoys sailing with his dad in the "big" boat much more than sailing on his own, so we don't push it... There were 2 Opti parents in the crash boat following the little fleet in & when they docked they came over to chat. The dad mentioned that C & B were ahead, & I said that, yes I had thought they were leading the Snipes. He said, "No, I mean they're leading the fleet- the whole fleet." & my jaw dropped. C & B were ahead of 40-some boats, the lead boat in the regatta. I watched them sail under the bridge & out of sight, heading to the next mark. Some time later a boat re-emerged from under the bridge & it was certainly a Snipe, but I couldn't see the number. As the rest of the lead boats came into sight I realised that this Snipe had to be my guys. They motored right along on this last, windward leg, toward the finish line, but then seemed to stop dead a few boatlengths from the line... I felt my stomach start to churn. I saw them tack, & then finally cross the line. As I suspected, there was a hole right where they had stopped & C had to tack to find enough wind to cross. But they did it. B's first race & they won the regatta!

C didn't tell B that they were in front of the whole fleet until after they had crossed, in case something untoward happened to their lead :) B was mainly focused on beating the other Snipes over the line & had an eagle eye out for them (he also had a squirt-toy shaped like a shark he was planning to use on anyone who got too close, but it had malfunctioned & wouldn't squirt :). When they crossed, C asked B if he could see any other boats ahead of them, then explained that they had won. He said B was stunned & then very excited. The race committee folks cheered, yelling B's name, when they finished, & so did the rest of the fleet as they followed them into shore. B congratulated each boat as it docked :) He waved madly at me as they came into shore & was so excited to tell me about the race.

The 2 of them put the boat on the haulout together, then B was lured away by sounds of the Opti kids playing foosball in the clubhouse, so he went off to play & C & I chatted with friends from the club while people were taking boats apart & rolling sails. We'd check in with him occasionally, since he tends to do better with the adults than with the kids (there's a lot of competition among the kids & the teasing can get out of hand). Later, he did report some obnoxiousness, but he handled it himself by playing just with the kids who were being nicer. The they put out the food & the party began. B was overwhelmed by the crowd in the clubhouse (it's pretty small), but we found a quiet spot to eat. He wanted some pizza, but it was sitting next to a crockpot full of meatballs, which set him ticcing, & he decided he didn't want any pizza. The kids went back to foosball pretty soon after eating, so he found sufficient distraction there that he didn't demand that we take him home.

The trophies were awarded to 9 different fleets, plus the overall "Brown Jug". B barely managed to carry the thing, it was so heavy. They also won the jug for the Snipe fleet. We get to keep these for a year & paint our boat # & date onto each jug. The keepers were mugs for both skipper & crew, so B has 2 new mugs of his very own :)

We left right after the trophies, since B was really tired (he'd been at the club for nearly 6 hours). He'd done a great job of holding it together all day. All the way home he kept saying "I can't believe I won the big trophy at my very first race!" in a wondering voice. I told him he has a lot to live up to now :) B decided to watch Reading rainbow until grammie came for dinner, then we had a quiet dinner with 2 very tired sailors at the table. B was having trouble transitioning to jammie time & asked to set off some fireworks (little ones, that do not fly into the air but are mostly pretty showers of sparks in the driveway), so C said "why not?" & this seemed to get B calmed down enough to transition to bedtime. He was very restless in bed, even as I was reading to him (he had a thought about Plussel & Minun- pokemon stuffies- getting hurt so we had him look to see if they were ok & they were...), & finally requested his ball blanket (kept ready at the foot of his bed). Within 3 minutes of pulling up the ball blanket he was snoring. A lovely & memorable day...


At 5:21 PM, Anonymous sharon said...

Congratulations to B!
That is such a wonderful story, I was getting all excited and caught up in the drama as I read. You are obviously so proud of your sailor men!


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