29 July 2009

Like Tarzan. Well maybe George O'Jungle

Huntington Lake is a tricky place to sail. Easy to make a lot of mistakes without really trying hard. Good speed up the lake depends, apparently, on a lot more than just local "knowledge." After all, Charles' knowledge has been posted on the regatta web site for all to see, and yet nobody has beaten him, not even a single race, in like, forever. Why is he so fast? Well, first, he's just plain fast on any water, but he really seems to have the feel and instincts for this particular lake. After being mostly frustrated by what seemed to be just screwy winds last year at the High Sierra Regatta, this year I caught some glimpses of what it must feel like to grok the winds, to understand that they are not screwy, they're just a little complex. (In case you're wondering, I'll get it out right now: No, I didn't beat Charles. Not even close, but at least this year I was close enough to see the color of his boat!)

After finding several ways to mess up an otherwise fine regatta at Whiskeytown, I was determined to keep it simple at Huntington. No fancy strategizing, just good clean tactics. Let others beat me. Let the lake beat me. But, don't let me beat me. After a good fast downwind leg to recover a 2nd in race one, race 2 started with a long beat all the way up the 7 mile lake. Without trying to get fancy, I just focused on the wind patterns revealed by the texture of the water and the sailing angles of all the Lasers who had started with us. It was about half way up the beat that I stumbled upon a rhythm, a strangely graceful feeling that I can only describe as swinging from vine to vine. The puffs behaved just as Charles had described them--they sort of fan out to the sides. Catch a lift up the right side of one, watch for the next, tack over and catch a lift up the left side of that one. Repeat. Holy cow, this is how to make tracks up this lake! Huge gains, that is until you miss one, and then, "watch out for that . . ." Wham! Sailed right into a header or a hole. Back to hunting and grasping for that next vine.

So, the racing was good, but what made the weekend great was the same as last year--fun with family and friends on a beautiful mountain lake. I was blessed to have the full entourage: Mom (with her now famous sailboat cookies), Bill, Kecia, and the kids. This year we stayed in the cabins. Ah, beds and showers (Thanks, Mom and Bill!!) Only problem was figuring out which party to go to. The Folsom crowd had their usual great spread at lake side, and this year Vanguard Fleet 76 out of Benicia made the trip and had quite the campsite cuisine themselves. Didn't want to miss out; so, we went to both!

So that's it. Definitely an annual event now. Racing gets better every year, and the fellowship is always second to none.


Dean Fulton said...

Lake sailing is sure different than sailing the bay. I at least had Charles nearby most of the weekend so I could compare tactics - though I should have been plenty far ahead w/ the V15. I think that the last lake I raced on was Westlake back in the early 80's.
I kept eyeing all those Lido14's, thinking what it would be like to get back into one of those after so many years - and wonder how far back in the pack I'd be.
Next year we'll do it again - and hopefully I'll be able to finish ahead of a couple more boats. I went into it w/ low expectations (evidenced by my merry-go-round crew selection), but can't help but think if I had done a couple things differently...

Anonymous said...

Well David, seems like you have got the lake wind patterns figured out ( well sort of anyway.....).
So, next year may bring a greater reward, although we do think that second place over all, was impressive enough!!
We too, enjoyed the comraderie and seeing all the Benicia and the Folsom crowd. Lots of fun! We will keep the calendar clear for next year so we can do it again.
Love, Mum and Bill

David said...

Hey, Dean. I think first time sailing that lake is supposed to suck. And hey, maybe I'll grovel at your feet and ask for my crew spot back if/when I'm done with the Megabyte this year.