Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club

One Wednesday Night:

Sailing World

Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club

Andrea Dowling

Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club
Lighthouse Point, Fla.

Ron's Point of View:

As my usual ride E Ticket is in the yard for repairs, we decided to enter my non-race boat,_ Endurance_, for the Wednesday night series. My non-racing wife, Andrea, had deep reservations about mixing up our "home" on the starting line with a bunch of aggressive racers. I assured her that the winds would be mild and that we'd be very careful and conservative. What she didn't know was that because we had only one extra crew, Hutch, that soon after the start I would put her on the helm as I trimmed sheets.

HISC (Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club) Wednesday night Beer Can Races usually finds a dozen boats, ranging from 25 to 45 feet: cruisers, cruiser-racers, and dedicated race boats. Tonight is no different; we have catamarans, trimarans, ultra-light racers, and heavy cruisers. Each has an equal chance to win a race thanks to the magical, never-contested, always-fair, rating system. Good sportsmanship plays a huge role in the pitched battle for bragging rights, free T-shirts, and BEER!

After completing the 3- to 4-mile race, we set an anchor on Endurance just inside the inlet and most of the competitors rafted up for sandwiches, beer and socializing. As usual, this was a great time for boasting, excuses, sea stories, idle gossip, and of course, drinking beer. Finally Jamie, the Beer Can Race Committee Chairman stood under the foredeck light as a vocal chorus of "Race Results!!" echoed across the decks. All competitors were acknowledged and applauded, as results were read from last until fourth place. "And in the money…" The third, second and first place finishers were announced. First place got a HISC T-shirt and a case of beer; second place a half case of beer. Whenever the winners don't join the raft up, their beer is awarded to the next place finisher. There's always something to be said for just showing up! A fine time was had by all. See you next Wednesday.
—Ron Schaper

Andrea's Point of View
I usually spend summer Wednesday nights at home enjoying the air conditioning, while my husband, Ron, is off sailing in the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club's beer can series. He normally sails on E Ticket, a Beneteau 38, with an extremely capable crew used to winning…a lot. I always laugh at him when he comes in at about 10 p.m. looking all bedraggled and windblown, but smiling as he makes a beeline for the shower.

I've never really been into racing, preferring instead a leisurely cruise on Endurance, our Sabre 402, which I consider my second home. But on the first Wednesday in August, with E Ticket in the yard for unexpected repairs, Ron suggested that we race Endurance. After all, how could he possibly survive a week without racing? So off we went to join the fleet and, surprise, I had a wonderful time.

On August 12, E Ticket was still in the yard. So we brought Endurance out for her second beer can race. Once again, so as not to put us in harm's way, Ron was conservative maneuvering Endurance across the starting line. As in last week's race, we were low on crew, so Ron put me on the helm, which made me feel more integrally involved in the competition. I couldn't help but be thrilled when we passed other boats.

This race was a bit more complicated than the previous week and I learned how important planning and strategy are to the outcome. In these waters, we must take the Gulf Stream into consideration. Where is it and how fast is it running? Since we were plenty early, our one other crewmember, Hutch, suggested that we head out to the Stream to check it out before the race. We should have taken his advice because the boats that stayed closer to shore and then tacked out to the mark had a great advantage over Endurance and the other boats that chose to head offshore at the start. We made up a lot of time on the other legs but, once again, finished out of the money.

After the racing, we were the anchor boat for the raft-up inside Hillsboro Inlet, a beautiful spot under the beam of the Hillsboro Lighthouse. That’s when we remember that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It’s the camaraderie of our club members and the pure joy of sailing that matter the most.

But the best part of the night actually came the next morning when my husband told me that he wants us to continue to sail Endurance in the Wednesday night races. He said that it gave him so much joy to see me having such a good time.

—Andrea Dowling