The forecast called for eight kts of wind tonight, right around the time the races were meant to happen. I showed up early and launched L&C under a steady 5 kt breeze. Unfortunately, it was blowing out of the South, which is not ideal around here.
Jared came down just before six and said Nathalie with an H was most likely on the way. She's riding her bike to work in support of Bike-to-Work Month here in Portland. I guess it could be an international bike-to-work month, but here in Stumptown it gets a lot of press and ends being a competition with prizes to the company with the most participants.
Jared predicted that Nathalie would tell us how much her butt hurt when she finally showed.
She showed and we launched in a light, 3-5 kts.
We made a couple of tacks, working on our sail handling and weight distribution; we discussed the strategy for racing, at least as much as we knew about it, and then made a run downwind.
Winds became even lighter and shifted to the North briefly. The thermal South was dying out on us in a hurry.
By the time the buoys were in place and the horns blew, the winds were dropping to very light.
We decided to go with the Thistles. Our plan was to follow the fleet and get some experience on a race course. Since the rapidly disappearing wind seemed to be the most important factor tonight, going with the first group away, while there was still a breath of a breeze, was the most attractive option.
The race committee shouted at us, recommending that we go with the last fleet. We answered back, "We are a Thistle. We are seventeen feet."
They laughed and said something like, "Whatever floats your boat," which turned out to be prophetic. As we crossed the start line the wind died completely and it was all we could to hold our spot ten meters inside and upriver from the start buoy. Whatever floated our boat was all we had going for us tonight, 'cause there was nothing propelling it.
Eventually, after much hornblowing, I noticed a blue and white checked flag on the RC boat. I let the crew know that it was all over and we started sculling our way back to the dock.
As I stood in the back of the boat sculling, J and N with an H nuzzled each other near the centerboard and I serenaded the young lovers.
So, our first race got across the line, the start line. But that was it.
Thankfully, Weenies on the Water showed up in time to feed us after our hard work.
We ended the night by filing a protest with the Race Committee. While preparing for the race we realized we were in distress and put out a general call for aid. The nearest boat was a Thistle helmed by Shannon the Real Sailor. Despite out dire straits, he refused to pass a beer over to us.
We managed to limit the damage and limp back to the dock, but I'm certain that all sailors will see this as one of the deepest transgressions on the Corinthian spirit; a tragedy that could have been avoided with the lightest bit of concern for fellow sailors.
Shamelessly, the aforementioned transgressor, unapologetically lobbied long and hard for one of our beers up on the cliff, post-"race."
As we walked away from the thinning, post-race gathering, a nearly-full moon rising across the river, the lights of Oaks Park twinkling on the water's surface, the squeals of roller coaster riders drifting across the glassy Willamette river, Nathalie with an H said, "My butt really hurts."
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