So you can understand why I haven't exactly plunged headfirst into the rehabilitation of my father's cherished Thistle, The Sled. Dad is gaga about wooden boats, and the Sled was his first labor of love. He restored #1055 stick by stick before I can even remember, and by the time I started crewing at age eight or so, the whole family regarded the Sled as a varnished temple. I learned to race under a different set of rules. As forward crew, my two biggest responsibilities were to wipe the grit off my feet before stepping aboard and, during takedowns, not to let the spinnaker pole gouge the foredeck grating. Those proved to be pretty tough jobs. If you're the one who moves the trailer from the hoist, how are you supposed to get back across the parking lot without picking up grit in your shoes? You leave your shoes on the boat, barefoot it across the hot blacktop, and then, at the bulkhead, use a rag to wipe your feet—that's what you do! And how do you keep the spinnaker pole from clanking during a tumultuous takedown? You wrap it in 20 pounds of hockey tape, and you set it down like a test tube of nitroglycerin.