Since I had my first taste of sailing a couple of weeks ago on the Pensacola Expedition, I was finally invited out to participate in the whitest sport since polo. BTdubs, this is what a google image search for “black polo” brings up:
Unlike my first sailing experience which took place at 2AM in a less than traditional outing, this time we were competing in the last race of the season for SYC. Southern Yacht Club is the 2nd oldest(1849) yacht club in the country, after New York Yacht Club(1844). If you’re interested in getting your mind blown, look at the photos of the interior of the NYYC here.
I know far less about sailing than this little girl who was a crew member on our boat.
Here’s what I do know: the boat has 2 regular sails – the main(big one) and the jib(in front). If you’re going downwind, you can haul ass if you drop the jib and throw out a big billowy 3rd sail called a spinnaker(AKA kite AKA ‘chute). As you can see, there’s a bunch of complicated info to know about the rigging of all the ropes and wenches and stuff.
Also, they don’t call any of the ropes “ropes.” They’re called lines, but each one has it’s own name. If they’re on the bottom of the sail, they’re called sheets. If they pull a sail up, they’re called halyards. There’s all kinds of inside lingo like that so that the crew can be very particular when yelling instruction. Instead of “pull that rope,” they might say “jump the spin halyard.” The problem is that sometimes old sailors who have been doing it forever forget that newbies like me don’t know shit about sailing. They fall back into the “pull that rope” vernacular to dumb it down, leaving everybody confused. Stick to the plan dude.
This is the jib sail(pre-race) before we hoisted it, shackled to its halyard. Below you can see the spinnaker pole. Changing from the jib to the spinnaker is the exciting part of the race. It’s a carefully timed teamwork-y move where you go from zig-zagging into the wind to turning completely around and raising the GO FAST sail.
We raced other boats that were in the same class as us to make it fair. Our boat had a cabin and a kitchen so it obvs wouldn’t be as fast as a stripped-down super light boat.
Even with a crew of 7 adults, there was still a lot of yelling when we raced. On a race sailboat, it’s almost like nothing is more important than winning. These guys didn’t care if they smashed their boats or what. The most pressing matter was going fast. If an adult were to fall overboard during a race, everybody would be hugely pissed. You might as well take your chances swimming to the shore if you’re close enough, cuz you will get ostracized if they have to turn that sucker around.
No matter what kind of boat you’re using, there are no brakes. On regular powerboats, you can throw it into reverse to slow down. Sailing is the subtle art of giving it juuuust enough stank to get it where you want it to go. See this guy coming out in front of SYC? Hard to return without a motor.
When the wind is at your front, you have to zig-zag or “tack” to go forward. Imagine parking in this slip using only the wind. It makes parallel parking look like child’s play.
This slip above is part of NOYC, the public marina owned by the city. In typical New Orleans city-run fashion, they haven’t had electricity or water to any dock there since Katrina. Come on dude.
After sailing in a big race boat and sailing in a small 2 person craft, I have to say that I like the simplicity of the small boat. I also like kayaks, man. Sometimes bicycles are more fun than motorcycles.
Chromeo throwing down with Daryl Hall taking some Yacht Rock to the next level: