Apparently there was some sailboat racing on Monday night--this thing we do every year called the Courageous Corporate Challenge. Yes, I was there. Yes, I watched said sailboat racing. You’re curious: “Who raced? Was it competitive? What were the conditions? Who won?” All questions will be answered....maybe.
We get all sorts of people who enjoy sailing at Courageous: kids in summer programs, families, young adults studying at local universities, lots of Ph.D. candidates (Ya! Sailors are wicked smahhht!), Dutch! For some reason we have a lot of Dutch sailors at Courageous. The Corporate Challenge is distinctive because of the sheer number of people who come to race but have NEVER SAILED. Cool, right? I think so. Anybody who buys a boat can come race - we assign them an experienced skipper because no, we don’t want them going out in a vessel sailing willy-nilly around the harbor, careening into stuff like car carriers and Coast Guard vessels. That would be bad. Instead we make sure they have an awesome experience while learning the basics of sailboat racing.
An ebb tide produced a slight outgoing current. To make sure racers stayed cleared the ferry lane, the starting line was set closer to East Boston. Even with a square line boats stacked up at the start with many hails of “Don’t go in there.” being heard by this observer.
Pre-race I was able to have a friendly chat with Jim Soloman, the owner of The Fireplace Restaurant, one of my most favorite Boston eateries. The story goes that last year The Fireplace signed on for Make-A-Mark and had so much fun they wanted back in this year. Huh, that’s fine with me because their food rocks! Just sayin.....
Racing commenced at 6:15 pm. The strategy for the night? Get a good start and extend on the fleet. Since the course was so short, consolidating was important for the top spots. Unlike most racing conditions on the Harbor, the wind was pretty consistent and the course was pretty much square so the fleet splitting course left and right didn’t really put one side ahead over the other. The key was to look upwind and take advantage of consistent and sometimes spotty pressure coming down. In this type of short course racing, good sail trim and boat handling are paramount. The top two sailors, Chip Terry and Mark Lindsay, both exhibited consistent starts and boat speed, except that Mark was heard to declare, “I got t-boned in the back on the start! Who does that!?”
There was lots of “mixing it up” on Monday night. Short course racing, which features lots of boat crossings and tight mark roundings, means teams need to “Git yur damn head outa the boat!” Not literally. Basically, it’s important to have a crew member looking around feeding information to the skipper—because he or she’s supposed to be focused on sailing fast— stuff like “Boats coming up on starboard. They’re down and we’re up. We’re on the layline. Put some in the bank.” Since we have numerous investment/banking companies in the Challenge, they probably enjoy that last “bank” bit.
Four races were run with Team BuzzAgent and Boston Boatworks tying for the top spot. Boston Boatworks took it on finishes. Teams sailed upwind and downwind with minimal collisions and a little bit of polite yelling. Sailors love emphatic “preventative” hails, like “Don’t go in there! No Room! Starrrrboarrrrrd!” Newbies might find all this calling out a bit confusing. Suffice to say if someone is yelling at you it’s probably best to get out of their way.
Post racing I was able to chat with the fellas from Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. I thought the name was a bit confusing. Is it the three places? In fact it’s two places, Brooklyn and Somerville and a thing, boulders. Whatever it is, they’ve got some really cool climbing stuff combined with all sorts of other exercisey things. The three fellas were effusive in their praise of the first night of racing. “We sucked! HA HA HA!” Laughs all around. I encouraged them, “Well, you can only improve but I like your spirit.” When you think about it rock climbing is a bit like sailboat racing. You need to hang onto something so you don’t fall, look ahead for the right path, and when you’re finished you just want to do it all over again.
Yes, folks. Next week we do it all over again......