I drove from Tucson to Phoenix early Friday morning to catch a flight to San Diego for the second day trip there in 3 days. While not the most direct route to SD, this itinerary would be the shortest to Lake Pleasant when I returned around midnight and faced a much shorter drive than would have loomed if I had returned to Tucson and had to wake up before I had really slept to make to the race on time.
Arriving at the entrance to Lake Pleasant shortly before 1, I saw three gray wild burros eating grass. Not something I see every day though I heard them braying somewhere in the dark once while I was sleeping on the boat. I considered pulling over to get my camera from the trunk, but fatigue and the possibility of disturbing the moment kept me in the car and enjoying the scene until I drove on to the gate. When I mentioned the burros, the attendant said every night a coyote comes and sits under a light pole 25 feet away. As if on cue, the coyote arrived, curled himself into a comfortable lying down position, and looked over at us as if he were crashing on the couch after dinner and didn’t care what was on TV.
Saturday was a disappointment. With the spinnaker sets and dousings, we discovered new ways to make a shambles of mark roundings and our finishes reflected the troubles we were having. The post-race dinner of chicken and brats and various sides (if you got in line early enough, and not if you didn’t) was enjoyable with the main side being a DVD of the 2003 America’s Cup race playing on a portable folding screen. I washed down my brat-bun-American-cheese-mustard-ketchup combo with the top shelf beer that went unimbibed at the Ferring’s Birthday Regatta planning dinner the week before. (Sorry I missed that one.) The sunset over the Sail Boat Shop (see above) provided a perfect backdrop.
Sunday the wind started brisk, lost its enthusiasm, had second thoughts, which led to an indifferent comeback, and it eventually pulled off a vanishing act that might have passed for magic if we hadn’t seen it before. Nonetheless, the racing was exciting enough. We finished 3rd in the first race, which in a fleet as small as ours usually would not even qualify for an honorable mention though this time we were within seconds of the first place boat.
In the second race, we rounded the windward mark only to have the wind shift forward to our starboard bow after we raised the spinnaker. Eventually, after drifting for a while in the doldrums that on Lake Pleasant should be called the burro lattitudes, we dropped the spinnaker, raised the jib, and waited. With the lake turning to glass, we waited some more. Over time, we got really good at it and waited even more. In the meantime, our competition, except for one boat, was stopped dead at the mark. Finally a wind line came from the south with the promise of a freshening breeze. By then 2 of the boats behind us had drifted to the left side of the course and had fallen further behind.
Tactics, sail trim, concentrating our weight on the leeward side, and roll tacking the 25’ Merit eventually led us to a 1st place finish on the shortened course.
I learned from both days, really enjoyed one, and look forward to the next.