What a great evening it was for sailing yesterday here in Dublin – we had beautiful sunshine and a Force 4-5 wind, something like 30 knots gusting to 40 (roughly 35-45mph). I was out on my regular boat, Pippa IV, a Sigma 33, which I often crew on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, sometimes Saturdays too.
Sailing is a tough sport requiring a lot of hard work – both physically and mentally. As I'm pretty inexperienced I'm generally a winch-monkey, one of 2 responsible for tacks – making sure the genny (aka foresail aka headsail) moves across the boat and is hardened up. It's a very physical job, and requires good coordination between the 2 people on the task. Last night was a little difficult because of the strong wind but we had a very experienced crew on board. Occasionally I do main, which means being in charge of the main sail, funnily enough! This is a hard job in strong winds.
Last night I ended up spending most of the time hanging off the side as ballast, in between mad scrambles down or up a rapidly rising deck. My duties were few: making sure our GPS had the correct waypoint programmed, and doing “guy” on the spinnaker, which means keeping the spinny pole perpendicular to the wind direction, so as to keep it full. I really appreciated leaving the tacks to the other guys because they had a tough evening of it due to the wind.
And the race? Well, we started quite well, roughly 5th (of 17) for the first leg. After the 2nd leg we had moved up to 2nd as many of our rivals had reefed their mainsails (making the main sail smaller, so it's easier to control in high winds). Going into the penultimate leg we were being caught up rapidly, and somehow on the last leg we dropped from 2nd all the way back down to 6th. Disappointing. I think we lost concentration on the last, which cost us dearly. Still, not a bad way to spend a beautiful sunny evening in Dublin!
As you can tell, there's
a lot of terminology to be learned when taking up this sport. And “Shiver me timbers”? When sailing at maximum speed the masts of wooden ships vibrate like a tuning fork. You'd be quite amazed at the number of commonly used phrases derived from nautical use.