Not every day can be like yesterday. And today—Day 2 of the J/22 North American Championship in Buffalo—was nothing like yesterday. Gone were the big wind and big waves, replaced by little wind and little wavelets.
We only finished one race, a shifty, mind-boggling affair. Aboard Bill Porter’s Conundrum, we got off the line in decent shape. We were headed left, and so was the wind. For a minute or two, it looked like we’d be able to tack to port and cross the entire fleet en route to a horizon-job victory…for a minute or two. Just as soon as we tacked over, however, the wind shifted hard right, and we went from first to last.
But I learned something today. Or, rather, I finally followed through on a lesson I’ve learned too many times: Don’t panic when you miss the big shift. Today, when the wind went right, my first instinct was to chase the shift, even if that meant taking 50 transoms. But we didn’t bail right. We stayed on our side, worked our way up the left, and came into the windward mark in decent shape. We ended up finishing in 18th place—nothing to brag about, but nowhere near as bad as it was looking halfway up the beat.
“Keep your head in the light and shifty stuff.” That’s something you hear all the time, something that’s a lot easier said than done, especially when you’re watching boats pass you on either side. But on a day like today, it’s the only way to keep your head from spinning right off your neck.