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That’s Knot Racing: 3 Big Stalled South Beach YC Events

Mar 1, 2024 | Sailing, Editorial

Who says that’s knot racing? This article appears in Latitude 38 March 2024, pages 81 – 82

Most mariners know bluster boy Njǫrd. From Norse mythology, he’s the guy who pulls the strings for wind, sea and all bounty of the ocean. He gets the text message whenever a sailor needs goodwill seafaring; he’s also the guy who bestows wealth and prosperity. South Beach Yacht Club has been knot racing because Njǫrd has been taking select days off—namely the club’s first three mid-winter race days.

Has he been remote with some wind lass? Or possibly taken ill, down with Island Fever? November, December, January competition records nada scores. Not a score was given, cause not a knot of nautical puff rippled ‘round the course. (Looks like the club finally added a touch o’ breeze for their late February race).

Who Says That’s Knot Racing

The pocket south of the Bay Bridge, where SBYC resides, is somewhat sheltered from the strong breeze that funnels off the Pacific but there’s nearly always a light breeze in winter, asserts Suni Petersen. Helping RC in January, she says winter storms can really kick up in the region, and summer months usually deliver steady 15 to 22 knot winds. SBYC cold weather competition has happened since the club’s formation.

“We hardly ever cancel even one race,” furthering that many hope the day’s conditions are not a harbinger of future conditions. Despite no-blow in January, crews took to tasks: some got current on pop culture, others stretched flat to catch rays, idle hands peeled labels off bottles. Petersen smiles, “In a recent race, while waiting for wind, crews tossed food back and forth from boat to boat—Oreo cookies for one.”

No Knots? Don’t Blame a Viking Scot

To explore possible reason for this season, we consulted a proud Scot whose, “Echoes of Norse heritage are woven in the rugged landscapes of my [his] homeland, intertwined with tales of fierce warriors, sea-faring adventurers and sea creatures such as the chaos-causing Nuckelavee.” Yes, that’s racing stalwart Mark Kennedy of Melges 32 fame.

His estimate was that Njǫrd decided to treat himself to a day of leisure, lounging on some fluffy cloud somewhere, enjoying the view of us mere mortals drifting aimlessly below. “After all, even deities need a break from time to time, right? But let’s not discount the possibility of a cosmic mix-up, where Thor accidentally borrowed Njǫrd’s enchanted hammer, causing all sorts of celestial chaos and leaving us stranded in a windless abyss.”

Is Njǫrd Dallying with the Wind Lass?

He asserts Scots to be a resilient bunch, accustomed to braving the elements with a hearty laugh and dark and stormy in-hand. So while bobbing on the bay, “I couldn’t help but raise a toast to Njǫrd. In the immortal words of our Scottish forebears, ‘When life gives ye nae wind, ye make yer ain fun!’”

Will a competitor or reader suspect collusion between Kennedy and the wind god? “Some may jest that my boisterous Scottish spirit, infused with a dash of Viking bravado, inadvertently intimidated the winds into submission, leaving us adrift in stillness. After all, there’s no denying the power of a hearty Scottish laugh and a well-timed tale of valor to sway the elements.”

Kennedy goes on to mirthfully point out there’s now a fierce tie for first in the series. “Maybe Njǫrd was looking out for his Viking brethren and the Nuckelavee.” One thing about this winter’s SBYC season so far (as of late February)—it’s somewhat similar to a kids’ sporting event where no one is a loser; everyone is a winner.

View South Beach YC midwinter 2023 photos.