The year started with a bang in early January with what turned out to be one of the high points of the year, my trip to the Dominican Republic for a Laser clinic and the Caribbean Midwinters in Cabarete. I was challenged by the awesome waves but in the process learned some things, broke some personal records (though not in a good way) and even had my fifteen seconds of glory. As I wrote back in January it was an "amazing, brilliant, challenging, draining, exhilarating, exhausting, exciting, humbling, inspiring, instructive, rewarding, scary, sunny, rainy, windy, wavy and totally worthwhile experience".
I was confined to virtual sailing in February and spent way too much time playing with Tacticat, the online sailing simulator. For a while I was one of the top-ranked players in the game and shared what little knowledge I had gained with fellow Tacticat sailors in a series of posts on Tillerman's Top Ten Tacticat Tactical Tips. They were...
- Get a Great Start
- Watch the Wind
- Stay out of Trouble
- Beware the Port Tack Layline
- Starboard Tack Danger
- Clear Air
- Downwind in Tacticat
Hmmm. Seems like there were only eight tips, not ten. I guess I knew less than I imagined.
In February and March I was somewhat distracted with the final stages of selling our old house in New Jersey which included dealing with a rash of problems found by the house inspection (there's what buried under the drive??????), throwing out twenty years of accumulated trash, packing way too much stuff that we should have thrown out, coping with the foibles of lawyers and real estate agents some of whom were supposed to be on our side, and all other sorts of related matters. I could have written many fascinating posts on the whole process but this isn't a house moving blog and there was too much of a risk that I would write something publicly that would only complicate matters even more. Somehow in the middle of all that I continued the final weeks of my training for the marathon.
By April I was living near my son in temporary accommodation in Massachusetts and was able to go out Lasering with him. Then it was off to England for the London Marathon, my third marathon and my first in a major city. I did finish but it was bloody hot on a sweltering day when over five thousand runners were treated by the ambulance service, over seventy ended up in hospital, and one died. My feelings about the experience are still very mixed and I'm not sure whether I will ever run another marathon.
In May I sailed in my first regatta of the year on the New England circuit and between house-hunting managed to fit in some Zen-like Laser practice. More importantly we found a house in Rhode Island that we wanted to buy, had our offer accepted and completed the purchase only two weeks later. Hooray. I am a Rhodilanda.
Then before I knew what had hit me it was June and I was off to one of the major events of the year, the Laser North Americans in Hyannis. In retrospect this was a totally ridiculous idea for all sorts of reasons, but I did have some awesome days, even though I was in the end totally humiliated.
In early July I had a blast sailing with my son at the Buzzards Bay Championship. Then on to the Newport Regatta where I had photographic evidence that I was faster than some of those hotshot kids, and at the end of the month to the Hyannis Regatta where I finally felt I had rediscovered my groove and I actually beat my nemesis, That Guy.
In August my son and I sailed the Buzzards Bay Regatta though we had one or two issues with a certain inedible uncrustable lunch snack and an overstressed regatta parking lot attendant. I'm glad my son was there, always fun playing mind games on him. I'm so mean. Then later in the month we both had some wild rides, and did a bit of swimming, at the Leukemia Cup in Bristol, on a day when NOAA had issued a Small Craft Advisory for Rhode Island waters.
Early September I sailed the New England Masters out of Third Beach in Newport, one of my favorite places to sail. And then my son took me up to sail in a series he had discovered in 2006, the Ponce de Leon Dinghy Series in Marblehead. I won one race and came second overall for the day. Woohoo! I actually won a trophy, the only one all season. But that's OK.
A summer with more Laser regattas against tough competition than I had ever sailed before. Excellent preparation for my trip to Spain in late September and early October for the Laser Masters Worlds, which turned out to be the largest Laser regatta in the entire history of the universe. A truly amazing experience, a long week of competition in all kinds of conditions, sometimes frustrating, always challenging. But I finally achieved my goal, after 26 years of Laser sailing, of finishing in the top half of my age group fleet at a Masters Worlds.
Looking back on the year I think there were three keys to the progress I made. Starting the year with the practice and racing in big waves in Cabarete, moving to Rhode Island so that I was able to sail so many regattas on the sea (as opposed to my former sailing life predominantly on inland lakes), and the focus on Laser sailing to the exclusion of other classes.
So what comes next? I will be back in Cabarete in January and then there is another Laser Masters World Championship in Australia in February. It never stops. It's a tough life. But somebody has to do it.