Youngstown Level Regatta 2013, a set on Flickr.
Last year the boat I normally crew on, "Dragonfly," went to the Youngstown Yacht Club for their annual big race (known as the "Youngstown Level Regatta." Since the skipper took his family on a long cruise this summer in Dragonfly the team bought a new boat to race, "Knot Here." Unfortunately, no one except for me was available to go the "Level" race this year, so I hitched a ride as crew one of the fastest boats on Lake Ontario, "Blue Streak."
Blue Streak is a J109 that happens to have the slip right next to Knot Here/Dragonfly, so I bump into these guys quite a lot. In fact, on a recent Wednesday when we were having technical difficulties on Knot Here I raced on her for the weekly club-level race. As it happens, the skipper of Blue Streak was, in fact, short of crew, and was happy to have me.
So I kissed Betsy and Henry goodbye on Friday and hopped aboard "City Side" and we sailed the boat across to Youngstown and met up with the rest of the crew. We raced Saturday and Sunday and partied Friday and Saturday nights.
And boy did we race. We won, in fact, our division. And if they had been giving awards for the fastest boat in the race area, we would have won that, too! Blue Streak is fast, very fast, even when matched against three other identical boats (some with brand new sails and equally experienced skippers).
My role was pretty modest. As the junior guy on the crew they put me in the position of "Squirrel"--that's the guy who goes below deck during Spinnaker ups and downs. The really important part of this is the take-downs, where the role of the Squirrel is to be a vacuum pulling the huge sail into the bow of the boat and then making sure it didn't get tangled. It was my first time racing with a spinnaker and I enjoyed it very much. Of course, there were a few growing pains and learning experiences over the weekend, but we still won.
Did I learn some things from a very successful boat that I will apply to my own? Naturally. But on the other hand I was surprised by how much was the same. The difference between doing okay and being champion racers is really all in the little, little details.