Back in February, I took the Capri 14 class at the Marine Aquatic Center. During the class, I mentioned to John the instructor that even though I liked the Capris, I wanted to get on bigger boats. I wanted the whole wind in sail experience without getting my feet wet every time.
John turned me onto a sailing club called the Women’s Sailing Association. Since I was a woman (they do also have male members) and I liked to sail, I joined up in April.
Then this past Sunday, I got to crew on a 42 foot Catalina for a charity regatta in Santa Monica Bay. Even though a sailboat is a sailboat, size does matter. Imagine one day driving a smart car and the next day driving a full on luxury SUV. I think the biggest boat I have ever been on was 34 feet. Maybe? It’s a blur.
I also had never raced on a sailboat. Fortunately, Chris, the organizer of the event, told me that it was going to be a pretty mellow undertaking and that beginners were encouraged to try. Yep! I’ll try. I’ll do whatever I’m told to do. If you just want me to sit on one side of the boat for weight purposes, I’ll do it. Show me how the winches work.
On Sunday, there were two men and seven women on the boat. I had never sailed with so many women before. Most of the women were older than I was, and I quickly realized that they could probably out-sail many of the boys. They reacted quickly and could do anything physical that needed to be done.
There was something else about the women on the boat. We women are very observant. We size each other up quickly. We figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can at times even be a bit manipulative (just a bit). However, on the boat, we became a crew collective. If a sheet needed to be pulled in and one couldn’t do it, another one would jump in and help. There was no machismo, no power grabs. It was just about sailing the boat.
At one point, when I was moving my weight to high side of the boat, one of the ladies joined me, and we dangled our legs over the side. The lady said she had to stretch out her 64 year old knees even though she looked a good fifteen years younger. I smiled. Sailing at 64 wouldn’t be so bad.
Later on land when I was talking with Chris the organizer about the day, we exchanged stories of how we had found the Women’s Sailing Association. It turned out that John had been her Capri 14 instructor as well. Small world.
By the way, since we were a boat of beginners, we finished the race far down in the pack. We were beaten at the finish by two boats who had missed the last buoy turn. So Douchebag Boat and Moron Boat, you were supposed to pass the last buoy on your Starboard side not your Port side. So there.