I used to be one of those sailors who believed deeply in racing … other people’s boats, especially when it came to big boats. Racing your own boat seemed like such a hassle (organizing and provisioning for lots of crew), as well as a potentially voracious, money-sucking, black hole (new sails, bottom jobs, and divers, just to name a few). So the biggest boat I ever owned and raced was a J/22. Even that was downgraded to my current race ride: a Laser. And I was content.
But now I find myself experiencing the first trickle of thought that involves racing my own boat, a Beneteau 36.7 called Moondust. And I sense danger (or will it be thrills?) ahead. When my buddy Ivar and I went in together on the 36.7 earlier this year, we were buying a cruising boat. Sure, we wanted a fast cruising boat, but the plan was–I mean is–to introduce our kids to sailing and spend some nice family time on the water.
The essence of Moondust: But I know there is more …
The boat is a dream to sail, and now I can faintly hear the siren call of sailing it competitively. I inoculated myself against the most demanding (and costly) sort of racing–36.7 one-design racing on the Chesapeake—with a shoal keel that is simply not competitive against the full-keel Beneteaus. So at least there is that. Yet there is little to stop us from racing the boat point-to-point or offshore with a PHRF rating. The 2013 Annapolis-Newport Race looks tempting. (And, hey, that would be a great way to deliver the boat north for some Cape Cod summer cruising!) And then, of course, there is the 2014 Annapolis-Bermuda Race, also known as the Bermuda Ocean Race.
Gary Jobson views the BOR in more epic terms, but you get the idea:
So here I am, on the verge of violating two of my most deeply held beliefs about sailboat racing (in addition to strictly racing OPBB–Other People’s Big Boats–I have long spurned handicap racing, and the idea that you need a stopwatch to figure out who won). Like a future addict on the verge of getting high for the first time, I think I am enjoying it. So I find my mind piling up with lists and modifications that would be required to get the boat ready for long distance PHRF racing, especially the spinnaker gear that would need to be added. I think about the sailmaker I would call to look at the existing racing inventory (which includes somewhat tired North 3DL sails). I think about how many crew would be optimal and what their roles would be. I think about getting aboard another B36.7 so I can see how it is actually raced. And some renegade part of my brain is even starting to contemplate how to get a PHRF rating, and what it might be (somewhere around 84, I think).
A nice smooth bottom, and the kids who I hope will help keep it that way.
Anyhow, this is how it starts. When we sent the boat in to Hartge’s yard in Galesville to have the bottom paint done, we had Trinidad SR sprayed on so the bottom can be burnished if (or is it simply when?) the time comes that the boat is headed for a start line. The bottom looked NICE. More important, it looked fast, and I plan to keep it that way by teaching my kids to dive on the hull when we are at nice quiet anchorages (paying a diver just seems too hardcore in the early stages of addiction). And if you have a fast bottom, you don’t want to waste it sitting at the dock or cruising, do you?
So I am starting to see how big(gish) boat owners, against all that is sane, end up racing their boats and inviting sailors like me to go racing with them. I guess no prejudice in life has to be permanent. As a result, I can envision Moondust on a start line off Annapolis on June 7, 2013. In the meantime, I have a lot of boatwork to do, and I better start earning more money while I am at it.
Annapolis-Newport: Spinnaker down the Bay would be nice (I better get one).