My dad’s a member of a yacht club in order to have sheltered jetty space for his motorboat. It’s not a fancy affair, most of the boats being small and decades old. But many of them are sailboats, and for the past ten years the club has been organising family-oriented mini races in the evenings. A few weeks ago they were a guy short on a boat where my dad is a sometime crew member, so he asked me if I wanted to come along. I sailed dinghies as a kid, so I know the basics.
My first race was on a rainy evening. I got wet and I got cold and I still enjoyed it. The second race was on a lovely sunny evening, and it was great. And earlier tonight on my third race I had the pleasure not only of fine weather and a good wind, but there were only three of us in a J/105 so I had some more onboard responsibilities. Also the adrenaline rush of fast tacking in a stiff wind. And beginning to learn what goes where on a bigger boat.
A race takes only about an hour and then there’s hotdogs and soda and light beer. People mill around on the quay talking while waiting for the hotdogs to get warm and the judge to get the results out of his spreadsheet. (Allowing for people to compete against each other using sailboats of different sizes, makes and models involves complicated math.) And though this is in a very affluent community and sailing is an expensive sport, the people in the club are pretty down to earth. My high-school gym teacher is there, sailing with his grown-up daughter. The vibe is amicable and unpretentious. These are people who, instead of hiring guards, keep a watch schedule and walk the jetties at night in person to keep thieves from stealing bits from their boats. I find myself enjoying their company. And the sailing.