Over the years, the guys have referred to it as the charity boat—just about anyone can sail onboard with us. On one hand it’s good to introduce others to racing. On the other hand, it puts a safety strain on the core crew worrying about newbies cabin-top sliding through rigorous romps on San Pablo Bay. Worse—some times a newbie is highly annoying. Last week another newbie was invited. Let’s call him Jack (for short). I think he was the worst guest on a sailboat.
At this beer can race, much of the core crew was away, leaving just three long timers. Add three somewhat recent mates, then cap off with two first timers. Forecast says rolling waves end of channel, winds 15 with gusts. There’s a sizable draw of boats tonight and we hit the start first, maintaining a lead two-thirds of the way down the channel. Skipper eases into his lowside corner. Comme d’habitude, we initiate the main in-main out, then says, “You’re driving the boat.” This is a Beneteau 36.7 with unmodified rudder. It’s a tippy-touchy boat prone to vigorous instant spin-outs, with max performance usually right on the verge. She’s got a mainsheet block which moves along the traveler located front of wheel.
As to mainsail trim, she breaks convention (even more so with old sails) in that she’s almost always better when ‘fast and ugly, like a Vallejo hooker.’
Not the worlds fastest athlete, more like the most annoying
Roughly one-fourth way down the channel, Jack decides to stand in the cockpit (we’re constantly varying between 5 and 20-degree heel). He’s looking at the main, then he’s got his hands on the boom, pulling it in. I’ll ignore it because he’s looking at skipper (heavens no, why look to the girl who is trimming?). Skipper gives him a quick explanation that the sail is right as-is. Jack remains standing with hands on the boom, still trying to muscle it windward.
The boat’s on the edge and Jack’s using the boom to steady his stand. Again he says, “Trim in. I’m a professional windsurfer. I know what I’m talking about.” At that instant it’s too bad I need to drop the traveler. His chatter continues in a lowered tone so only i can hear it. i’m debating how strongly to reply. I finally cough up, ‘you’re a guest.’
I think that bobbled him a bit. Skipper then launches into an explanation about the rudder, main trim, force on boat. That didn’t do much; Jack, the worlds fastest athlete, is still moving the boom around and decides to look behind at me.
Getting fed up, I finally say, “Please don’t move the sail.” He sits aside me, making overt glances up, then directly at me, then back at the sail. His advice chatter continues in a lowered tone so only I can hear it.
The Best Ever
The good ole worlds fastest athlete sidles to another spot on the boat and resumes yacking, eventually settling on the rail once the waves kick in. We’re hitting 6s and 7s heading to the mark. We round it and veer toward the wall, then flatten out. Jack gets a beer and opts to stand starboard top of boat where the trimmer usually sits. We’re hitting DDWs and the boom is fully to port (no spinnaker today—not enough talent). Jack’s engrossed in diatribe with the other boat yacker who’s also standing in the kill zone. After a few call-outs from skipper, those two eventually move to safer spot.
“fast and ugly, like a vallejo hooker”
How to Not Be a Welcome Guest on a Boat
We’ve flipped the sails and have turned to head up the channel. A few moments later Jack’s trimming the jib, a beer in one hand and standing center of pit. Wind is steady enough to require two wraps on the barrel and we’re tending to 10-degree heel. Maybe magic is happening, but I don’t perceive headsail trim occurring as we move through puffs, and surely there’s no visibility for reading tell tails from where he stands. Anyone who sails this part of the San Francisco Bay knows you cannot sit idle on this run; it takes constant trim to power the boat, keep it at proper angle, work through changes in velocity and prevent round up. I think skipper finally realized we were void one aware trimmer. He reaches over to initiate headsail trim. while still driving the boat. Skipper then shares outloud his activity. Jack eventually plops down, next to me again.
Within seconds he’s back to look up, look at me, look up, stare at me. I’m fully engaged in constant sail trim. He says something like, “I’m just trying to know what you are looking at…what are you doing?” All I can muster is, “I’m working the puffs.”
Race done, back to the dock. I look round and there’s two of us cleaning and coiling. Eventually a few more pop up. Points off again. Jack—fully engaged with a beer koozie and Red Stripe—is adding to the chatter below: “I’m the fastest windsurfer. I am the worlds fastest athlete. I am still sponsored by company X. Blah, blah, blah.”