It’s official, I have completed my first sailing race. For the last couple of weeks, everyone at the club has been telling me that once I race, I will never be able to sail for fun again. I can attest that I would be happy to sail for fun any day, but racing really is totally different experience.
I joined one of my other crew members as ‘rail meat’ during the race. Rail Meat is a term used to describe crew members who crawl back and forth across the boat while tacking in order to balance the boat and prevent it from capsizing during a race. Each time we tacked, myself and another crew member would quickly crawl over the top of the cabin and just beneath the boom to the other side of the boat where we would then sit along the edge of the deck and lifelines to balance the boat out. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze each time and even more of a challenge when the boat is at a close haul. The most vital part of the crawl is making sure you are ducked down low enough to not get clobbered by the boom as it swings around.
When I first joined the team, I remember seeing ‘knee pads’ on the equipment list. It was listed as optional, and I thought, ‘why would you ever need knee pads to sail?’ Needless to say, I didn’t buy them and have now learned the hard way. I woke up the next day with two bruised and battered knees from crawling back and forth on the boat. Whomp. I guess I will be picking a pair up since it has been determined that majority of my time will be spent on the foredeck due to my height and weight.
Although my knees are still sore, I wore those bruises as a badge of honor for completing my first race. I feel as though I am learning more and more each day. My time on the foredeck allows me to glance over and retain what other crew members are doing. It’s only two weeks in and I have already been trained on two separate positions on the boat, as well as pre-race prep.
The excitement of flying across lake Erie and the adrenaline of competing in something once again has me hooked. I will gladly take the bruised legs and knees all summer to be a part of this.