A Swan among Ducks
During one of my later visits, Dad asked me if I wanted to come with him to the park and race with his friends. I liked the idea of sailing my boat in a crowd again and I wondered how well my 19-year-old boat would do against today’s modern equipment. They were sailing Soling One-Meters. I had never seen one sail so I didn’t know what to expect. Dad told me not to worry.
When we arrived, I was greeted warmly. Dad may have hyped how good the boat was based on their eagerness to see it and see me sail it. They had never seen a 10 Rater before, much less one that was a former national champion. Some of them may have wanted to see how their boats would do compared to a 10 Rater. As I mentioned before, so did I.
After I put Dad’s boat into the water, I launched mine. Its bigger size, faster speed and graceful acceleration made the boat stand out like a swan among ducks. I felt awkward. I could tell that Dad wanted me to show off a little bit so I sailed my boat backwards from the start/finish line to the Leeward Mark. It was becoming apparent to the others that my boat was a little faster so one of the members suggested that I circle the buoys instead of just rounding them. I agreed. I thought that would keep things close. Then they started the clock and we started to race.
During the countdown I felt a little bit of an adrenaline rush like in the old days. I pulled off an excellent start and headed to the Windward Mark focused on my boat. I rounded the buoy and then I circled it. At that point I noticed that nobody else was close. I had been in this situation before but for the first time in my life, I started to feel like a bully. While my boat was many times older than any of the other boats, it was still a 10 Rater. There would be no racing for me that day. This boat’s racing days were long ago. While I may race again someday, this was their time and their race. I sailed away from the course and away from the other boats.
“Where are you going?” Dad asked.
“I don’t want to mess up your all’s race, so I’m just going to stay out of the way.” I answered.
He sounded a little disappointed but I think he understood. I think he wanted to show everybody how far ahead I could finish but the point was already made. The Solings that they were racing did not compare to what may have been the fastest model racing yacht he had ever built. He asked me to sail along side of his boat so he could take a couple of pictures. I obliged. They’re the last pictures of our having boats in the water together. On the way home, we stopped for ice cream.