Duck Cup~Distance Race
16 June 2010 | Duck~Corolla, North Carolina
20 knts from the SSE
First sailing weekend coincided with my release from school and boy did I need a celebratory release this year! As with all things during the summer respite, I choose to take my time and consciously awaken to the blessings of the day! Having packed three bags: clothes, food and gear....we were on our way up to the northern Outer Banks. Hobie kitty and I pulled into Nor'Banks Sailing Center pretty late, but excited to see other folks already camping and a yard full of catamarans there on the waterfront~
Saturday morning, the sailors were up and busy about gearing up for the days challenge...a leMans start from Duck up to the Currituck Lighthouse near Whalebone and Corolla...supposedly a (approx) 30 mile distance through the seabed grass and marsh islands. The wind was coming from the south, running north with a 'wing n' wing' most of the way, the other boats chose to downwind tack the distance. But being quite familiar with sailing between marsh islands on tidal creeks, I was able to make some ground against the much bigger, hotter, faster cats...I was clearly staying ahead of all the Getaway cats and the two-handed Hobie 16's, which put me in the middle of the pack. One Hobie 16 actually seeing my advantage, came and sailed neck n' neck for a while. It was a LONG downwind run, but I kept thinking how even longer it would be upon rounding the mark and having to sail back upwind into a headwind and rolling sound. Waving at the lighthouse, we rounded the mark and started needling our way back, I did not realize how long we had sailed and how tired I was....the school year and night drive was catching up with me and the exhaustion set in as the wind started to pick up over 20-25 and the wave action was getting bigger. I noticed Hobie kitty was taking it hard and burying her hull in the 4 foot crests and thinking she may be taking on water. So I sailed into a small beach along shore to check and thankfully heard no water inside her hulls, since I was already there, I decided to take a short power-nap....yeah, crazy...in the middle of a race....but I needed something to get me through the rest of the battle windward.
By the time I awoke, the last two boats were sailing by my position, so I had a quick drink and an apple and headed out. The rest of the race was literally a battle between tacks in high wind and high waves with short frequency causing Hobie Kitty to fly off the top of one wave and bury like a submarine into the next.....and that was the scenario for miles, with an occasional rudder kick-up due to either sea grass beds or sandbars...not to mention the beautiful blue sky & sun blazing down on my already burnt face. What kept me going was the challenge of keeping up with the other two boats. As I kept my eye on the big BLUE water tower I noticed upon leaving the beach, it became apparent that I had not gotten a better look at the Sailing Center beach before I left, it was very difficult to identify in these conditions. I spied a blue building, and trusting my intuition, that must be it, I took my last tack towards the outer bank and after riding the bucking bronco wild ride, for several hours, I had chosen correctly. Upon crossing the line, quite a few sailors had gathered on the pier and cheered as I was acknowledged with the sound of the gun~
All the veterans were surprised Hobie Kitty and I had gone the full distance, had even taken a nap, kept hard-on in the building conditions and ALAS, I didn't finish last. It was nice to hear the fellow sailor behind me in amazement as to our pointing ability and recap of the tacking battle upwind.
My only disappointment was that I decided to not sail the second day, it was a sleigh ride, beam reach, down to the bridge and back (6 miles) with winds in the 25-30 range...all the single-handers regrouped and doubled up on each others boats. I was satisfied with Hobie Kitty's performance, with the making of new/old friends and reconnecting with a spirit of competition, endurance and the LOVE OF SAILING~