Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yemaya's First Sailboat Race

Ever since Yemaya was even tinier than she is now, she has laughed whenever she gets a gust of wind in her face. She closes her eyes and puffs out her cheeks and sputters and chuckles. It was so funny that we made up a rhyme to go with it:

Breeze in the face
Breeze in the face
Just enough for a sailboat race!

Last night Yemaya got introduced to the thrilling white-knuckle world of sailboat racing... which for her was much the same experience as the thrilling world of sitting in the backseat of a car on land...

Our courageous crewmember had all the latest high-tech sailing gear:
  • Stuffed dog. Check!
  • Rattle ball. Check!
  • Jingle bell bracelet. Check!
  • Soggy Ak-Mak cracker to slowly masticate into paste and rub into carseat. Check!
  • Mama's sunglasses to open. And close. And open. And close.... Check!
  • Jammies in case I fall asleep. (Don't worry, I won't) Check!

We weren't planning to fly the spinnaker, but Yemaya held onto (and chewed on) the pretty yellow pole topping lift just in case.

Since beer can racing on the Oakland Estuary is such a serious, competitive pursuit, I diligently printed 2 out of 3 of the available documents on the web site:
  • Course Map. Check!
  • Sailing Instructions. Check!
  • Fleet Assignments. We'll never need that...
Flash forward to 6:25pm. We are circling the starting line with a few dozen other boats of varying sizes trying to find other boats that look "like us." I see a Santana 25. That's gotta be similar rating to a Santana 22. I sail close enough and ask "Do you know when we start?" He replies "Are you racing non-spinnaker? You guys are all Fleet A. That was your warning gun." Doh! We were kinda slacking because, being slower, we're usually among the last boats to start. We are nowhere near the start.

Minutes after our starting gun, I'm still singlehanding the boat towards the line while Sarah breastfeeds Yemaya down below. It's a little dodgy trying to steer and trim both sails while peeking underneath our 155% Genoa. The two boats that started on time are miles ahead of us, but miraculously there are boats behind us too!

In light wind, less-wetted surface trumps longer waterline. In our small, stripped-down boat, slowly but surely we pull away from the pack of longer, heavier keelboats. The wind is coming over Alameda instead of down the Estuary, so what would normally be an upwind-downwind course is a reach both ways. The wind direction favors a genoa over jib+spinnaker, and later we even pace some of the spinnaker fleet.

Some of the racing highlights were slaloming the narrow gap between two Columbia 5.5's, rolling one to windward and one to leeward, while the baby shrieked "DADADADA" (I'll never get tired of hearing that!) and the other yachtsmen looked on in horror at being overtaken by a floating pack-n-play.

We finished just as we started, with Sarah down below breastfeeding Yemaya. The race instructions specify two laps around the course, but we heard a horn as we finished our first lap. "Hmm, I guess that's it." We looked around and kept sailing just in case, but it seemed the other boats are dropping headsails and going home.

In the end, we came in just ahead of the middle of the pack. But I think we won a moral victory for proving we could sail well with the baby, and enjoy almost every minute of it!

562 Joey Hansen Magic Mercury 234 19:22:10 0:52:10 0:41:15 1

18686 Fred Minning Svenska Peterson 34 123 19:17:49 0:47:49 0:42:05 2

53 Ari Rubenstein Mardi Gras Santana 22 237 19:27:56 0:57:56 0:46:52 3

3674 Robert Hamner Pequod Catalina 27 Tall 189 19:33:31 1:03:31 0:54:42 4

18020 Roger Mystic Newport 177 19:35:56 1:05:56 0:57:40 5
157 Leroy Gilles Summerplace
198 19:37:27 1:07:27 0:58:13 6
285 Warren Taylor Kiwa Ericson 32-2 183 DNC : : 8
535 Paul Mueller Iskra Mercury 234 DNC : : 8

It was amazing how Sarah multi-tasked between sailing and mothering. At one point she was literally trimming a genoa sheet with one hand and a putting on a puppet show with the other. Damn. There are moments in any marriage where you think, "If I wasn't already married to this woman, I'd get down on one knee right now..."


callsign222 said...

Is the 22 yours? When did you get it? Something to kick about in instead of Macha?

Just wondering where the new boat came from all of a sudden...

Ari said...

Yeah, it's a Santana 22, for daysailing and learning how to race. Had it for a while.

I won't say we've joined the "Cement Buddha" tribe of liveaboards, but I will say we don't actually SAIL Macha nearly as often as we'd like!

Maybe this summer...

- Ari

Kate said...

That last part about Sarah is the cutest darn thing ever.

BoatParadise Classifieds said...

I messed it.