Friday morning, Carol Anne drove down to Elephant Butte and arrived at the "Fleet 141 compound" before noon. Getting women out took a while because only one of the J-24's was in the water and attempts at launching another stalled when the deep-keel boat and trailer ran into a sandbar a few feet below the water's surface.
So, Carol Anne and one of her crew members, Sue, and three other women - six in all - finally piled into the one available boat to do some training. They considered putting some of the women on Carol Anne's boat, but the lower backstay hadn't yet been replaced so the boat wasn't fully usable yet.
In the meantime, I picked Gerald up after school and we drove to the Butte, checked into our motel (Charles), and went to a marina where one of our boats is slipped. We parked near the boat ramp, launched a couple of kayaks, and paddled over to the marina, where we tied the kayaks by Syzygy and looked for the marina manager, only to find out that he had recently resigned. But, I got to talk to him and learned that he seemed okay.
We then went to Rock Canyon in time to help work on Black Magic and meet the women at the end of their sail. While Gerald was running errands, Carol Anne took me and Larry out on her boat. With the lower backstay newly replaced, we were able to run both mainsail and jib on our sunset cruise and had a great time sailing along with Braxton on Larry's Etchells, Constellation. We then joined the folks having dinner at the Strasia's, Carol Anne completed registration procedures for her crew for the Adams Cup, and we then dropped Gerald off at the Damsite to sleep onboard Syzygy, joined Braxton and Larry for a while at the bar and learned the secrets of success for female athletes, and finally collapsed late into our motel beds.
Saturday morning we grabbed a bite and met the rest of Carol Anne's new crew at the pre-race skippers' meeting on the Damsite restaurant terrace. The crew then headed for the Rock Canyon marina where rigging the boat took a long time; it was the day for coaches to back off and let the crews do things on their own and Carol Anne was the only member of the crew who had ever sailed on a J-24. Helming the four races plus instructing a green crew (none of the crew had ever handled a spinnaker pole or had much race experience) was a big workout for Carol Anne, and the spinnaker gave the crew so much trouble that they had only very limited success in deploying it. Much more work is needed before the crew will be really ready for competitive racing, but at least they're now working hard and learning.
I had volunteered to help Rich crew a boat, but it turned out that the boat's owner had no need for my services, so I wound up working on Carol Anne's boat and slip in the warm sunshine. By the end of the day, I greeted a weary crew. Our family then wound up among a crowd of thirty hungry and thirsty sailors at the Damsite restaurant. Service was quite a bit quicker than at the disastrous dinner of two weeks before, but still not terribly fast; the kitchen gets overwhelmed by crowds, so we had to wait an hour and twenty-five minutes for our dinner and one of our side dishes was undercooked.
Sunday morning Carol Anne was moving very slowly; pollen allergies and a dose of allergy medicine combined with a very early dockside rendezvous time to shorten her sleep severely. Carol Anne was the first woman sailor at the marina, excepting one sailor who with her husband had slept aboard their MacGregor, and even beat Larry to the marina. Her crew were only about five minutes behind her, and had a bit of breakfast and started rigging their boat before their coached arrived. Casting off eventually, they practiced and then sailed two races before returning with a few other boats; perhaps half the fleet remained for a third race.
The spinnaker was still giving the green crew lots of trouble, but Carol Anne had lots of fun with the second race start. The wind had shifted earlier, leaving the port side of the starting line well favored and, unfortunately, the committee boat on the port end of the line (the wrong end, but only one person was on the committee boat). All the rest of the fleet was bunched together and heading for the favored port end when Carol Anne came up from starboard and forced the other boats to duck. Unfortunately, the crew didn't quite have timing down and Carol Anne didn't have the information about how close they were to the line, so she had slowed the boat and let a couple of other boats get away and crossed 20 seconds after the gun. As it turned out, she could have really wreaked havoc on the port tackers and kept any of them from crossing her if only she had known had far she was from the line. She did, at least, force the fleet champion to do a crash tack to avoid her and make some choice comments that can't be printed in a family-friendly weblog. Perhaps his crew had been caught napping and not telling him the info he needed for the start.
Back at the marina, I worked on the boat a bit, helped a sailor shuttle his truck and trailer to another marina, rescued Gerald (the skipper for whom he was crewing had not made arrangements to pick him up and hadn't told Gerald when or where to be in the morning, so Gerald missed out on crewing), and enjoyed breakfast with one of our sailing friends. Arriving at the marina, I was introduced to a local newspaper reporter, who wanted pictures of the fleet. I arranged to meet her after checking out of our motel; while I was gone Gerald talked to her and prepared Black Magic for its journalism mission. Arriving near the end of the first race, we sailed among the fleet, giving our passenger lots of good pictures. This was the first time I'd ever helmed Carol Anne's boat and it really seemed fit in among the racing boats much better than our cruising boat ever did or would. Returning to the marina, we arrived with an enthusiastic passenger who'd had a great time on the water and presumably lots of good pictures.
After Carol Anne's crew returned (sailing two races) and de-rigged and packed their boat, it was time for dinner and an end to the weekend.
The story continues.