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So it’s race night…

You hop in the car, glance at the clock. “Do I have my water bottle?  Am I on snack duty?”  Traffic.  Again.  Check the clock.  OK, it’s moving. Glance at the lake.  Is there wind?  Yes!

Park.  Through the gate. Your senses awake.  You can feel the sun, sense the breeze. A spring forms in your step – whitecaps! Butterflies!

Climb on board. Greetings. Bag below. Uncover the main. Lower the jib sock.  Cockpit bags.  Battery switch. Start the engine. Cast off.  Motor out.  Fenders away. Hoist the main. Bear off.  Kill the engine.  Ahhhh!

Do you miss it?  I do.  This is the magical moment as we surge away from the clamour ashore.

Open the jib.  Now the wind grabs us!  Set the genoa cars, tweak the halyards. Put in a few tacks to shake out the cobwebs.  Check in at the committee boat and start planning the race while we dance with the elephants in the pre-start.

By now we are chatty, enjoying the camaraderie.  A meeting of old friends, reluctant to focus on the race but no longer strapped into the cares ashore.  It’s a perfect transition; an overture to the drama about to unfold.

Start the clock, unfurl the jib. It’s all focus now as we become one smooth unit.  Timing.  Tacking. Positioning. Going for the line. “Harden up!  Up & out, lads!”  A hundred decisions in five minutes and now we tweak and adjust, look for wind, manage gusts and judge our next move.

A few tacks and it’s time to set the bag.  One more and we are on the layline.  Set the pole.  Pre-feed the guy, and – all together now — “CLEAT THE GUY!”  Hoist!  Made!  Sheet on!  Whoosh!

(It’s not always whoosh, but we have this maneuver nailed.  Jibing?  We’ll nail that next season).

Time to douse.  Open the jib.  Drop the pole. Haul the guy. Down the hole. Blow the sheets. Pay out the halyard. Round the mark.  Harden up!

When we cross the line, we are younger than when we arrived at the marina.  Our lungs are full of fresh air.  Our minds are clear of to-do-list-items.  We notice the beauty of the glowing sky in the west.  This is a contagious sensation.  As addictive as any drug.  And all the more powerful because it’s done together.

Calmly now we furl the jib, flake the main, cover them both, stow the cockpit bags & deploy the fenders.  Like a well-oiled machine we slip into the slip, secure the lines and still the engine.

Like brothers, we share a moment and toast another glorious night on the bay.  “CLEAT THE GUY!”

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