The Twilight of a Boat’s Career
1979 was not too kind to my boat and I. The new trend developing where skippers were putting large sails on Marblehead boats and sailing them as 10 Raters was taking hold. The increased sail area along with the smaller boat was perfect for the dead weather of Central Park. To make matters worse, my sails were getting old and a little misshapen. My father’s new, white, 50-inch 10 Rater was quite a success. The MYRAA National Championship was held on an unusually quiet day at Eisenhower Park and was won by Dad with that boat. I won a long-distance race at Saddlebrook. Long distance races are different in that instead of sailing several one-lap races, the race continues until a pre-set time. The boat that completes the most laps at the cut-off time is the winner. The Eastern Division race was scheduled for May but it was postponed to October due to rough weather. Ironically, the weather was exactly the same when we got around to racing it. It was held at Mill Pond. It was also run as a long-distance race. It poured the rain. The wind was a steady 30 mph with gusts up to about 50 mph. My main concern was conserving my winch batteries. My Daddybuilt winch was powerful enough to pull in my sails under these conditions, but doing so could drain the life out of the batteries. They prevailed and so did I. Between that race and the Minuteman Invitational the week before, the wind had blown the three’s off of my sails. I had my high school yearbook picture taken with my boat the week after that. I replaced the missing numbers in time for the next race, the W. Keough Trophy, which I won. It was the first time I had won one of the traditional trophy races held at Central Park. Also, that was the final victory for my 10 Rater. In 1980, the sails had become even more stretched and misshapen and the boat did even worse. I took the boat to race in the International Regatta in Ottowa Canada. I did horribly to the point of embarrassing myself. That may have been the last time I raced the boat.
When Dad retired and moved to Florida, the boat eventually ended up stored there with him. In one of the daily phone conversations I had with him following my heart surgery, he told me that he was going to fix up my boat and have it ready for me to sail the next time I visited. When that visit came about, I sailed it from the dock as he watched. I sailed the boat again the following morning to take some pictures with the sunrise. These moments seemed less like a reunion and more like no time had passed from the last time the boat and I played together. It was during these moments that I finally understood why my father enjoyed sailing a plain sailboat when I was a toddler. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t sailing this boat in a race or preparing for a race. There’s no way to overstate the relaxation realized in watching the wind move a plain sailboat across the water.