Fall Series #7 was another windy and wild affair, with sustained winds in the high teens and low twenties and then gusts into the high twenties. Four Lightnings (Aaron, Bobby, Geoff, and John) braved the conditions along with a couple of Albacores and a Buc. The RC set a nice long O course and sent us off on a series of O2 races. Keeping the boat flat was paramount and this was no easy task in the puffy and very shifty conditions.
I was sailing with Piercarlo and Sara on Beedobeat and they both did a fantastic job of hiking like crazy and keeping the boat balanced upwind and downwind. There seemed to be a favorable shift on the left side of the course as one headed towards the airport shore, so it often became a battle to get over there, tack, and then fight up to the windward mark. We traded places with Bobby (sailing with Brian and Kirsten) all day, and it really was a blast. The puffs and shifts never settled down enough for us to fly the spinnaker (though we contemplated it) so it was lots of jib reaching and wing-on-wing sailing when we were off the wind. Even so, some of the puffs were enough to get us near to planing speeds going wing-and-wing!
We ended up coming in a bit early after, in the third race, I kicked the mainsheet out of the cleat to ease in a massive puff and then missed the hiking strap as I went to hook my foot back under the strap. My other foot wasn’t all that secure under the strap, so my kick move resulted in me doing a complete backflip right off the boat! I went over and in so fast that I never lost my hat (I was wearing a life jacket), and I still had the mainsheet in my hand as I popped back up to see my boat heeled over and sailing away from me! Piercarlo sprang to action and grabbed the helm, and I gave up on the mainsheet since dragging me was also sheeting in the main and heeling the boat (you never want to see your bailer and centerboard from the outside of the boat when you’re in the water!!!). Sara and Piercarlo did a great job saving the boat and preventing a capsize, but by the time they got the sheets eased and the boat level they were a ways away, and drifting away just as fast as I could swim. The RC sprang to action right away and the 16′ skiff was alongside me nearly instantaneously. They hauled me aboard the 16 and then drove me over to my boat where I hopped back aboard. Sara had already pulled out a beer for me as we retired from that race and headed towards the marina, and Piercarlo drove us home as I drip-dried a bit (thankfully it was nice and warm out, and the water wasn’t all that cold just yet). It turns out that the 3rd race was also the last of the day so it wasn’t long before I was dried off and we were all gathered around the grill telling stories and enjoying a sunny afternoon. Once again, though, a huge thanks to Piercarlo and Sara for their quick reactions once I, quite literally, departed the ship!