The 1989 NACs -- A future champion's view
Wait 'til next year
Charlie Gray -- DS1471 -- Fleet 4
I had spent a lot of time getting ready to go to Huntington. Half Moon had been neglected in the last several years, but she was finally getting some attention. Her woodwork was varnished, her masthead fly replaced, her trailer refurbished, a new centerboard was on order,
When the day finally came, James (my crew) and I went into a frenzy of registering, losing the main halyard inside the mast, getting all sorts of help, not socializing until all the rigging was done, launching and finally making it out to the starting line for the first race of the High Sierra. We got a good start, in light airs, but lost a lot of places going upwind; then lost more going downwind, in the first of many struggles with our spinnaker.
Margie and son Michael joined us that afternoon. The beautiful setting of Lake Huntington made quite an impression on them. They enjoyed their front row seats as the fleet sailed down the lake and rounded Mark 1 a scant fifty yards away.
There were all sorts of social activities as well; barbeques, picnics, informal socializing around the cove where the boats anchored at the end of the day, volley ball, tennis, arguing with the bears as to who was boss in the campground (they were) and an unforgettable Lip Synch contest produced by Fleet 56.
As the High Sierra continued, we learned more: what spare parts we should have had (shackles and clevis pins) and (many times) that we needed more practice with the chute.
In my home fleet, only I knew Half Moon's name: nobody else had ever seen her transom. But then, in the first race of the NACs we started to beat some boats. The competitor that had been slumbering in me came to life. So this is what racing is all about!
We went into the second race feeling (prematurely) good about our spinnaker prowess. After an epic struggle, it went up...sideways and earned us the coveted Blockhead award.
By the fourth race, we were really beginning to work together as a crew. This was just as well, because the wind had piped up to 20 with gusts higher. On the down wind leg Half Moon was planing under spinnaker. I had never sailed her as fast , nor with as little feeling of control.
As we approached Mark 1 I said to James: "One of three things is going to happen: 1) we'll jibe around the mark or 2) we'll go planing up on to the beach at 8 knots, scattering spectators right and left or 3) we'll go into the lake. At this point I don't know which it will be." We jibed.
The awards dinner concluded an exciting week of sailing, of camaraderie, of learning to work as a crew, of competing with Day Sailers old and new, of meeting Day Sailer families, of learning that there is competition throughout the fleet. James' only comment was; "Dad, when is the next race?"