One Thursday Night in Cleveland

Nights like last are both the cause of, and cure for, my end-of-summer dread.

About this time every year I start getting nervous. Mid July. Do or die.

In grade school, passing the halfway point of summer break would bring on a sense of dread. When J.C. Penney began advertising their back-to-school sale, I'd yell at the television. "Oh come on," I'd plead. "Already? It's still July. We don't go pack until August 24!" The sight of my smiling peers waiting at the bus stop with their new backpacks made me sick. No kids in their right minds would be smiling at the bus stop in mid July. They must be getting paid. I'd shut off the TV, run outside, and throw the tennis ball against the side of the house for a few more hours. Anything to wipe off that reminder that life isn't perpetual summer. Not in Cleveland, at least.

I've since learned there's nothing you can do to slow summer's roll. All you can do is take a nice ride while it passes you by. That's why I was so happy to see a strong breeze blowing yesterday evening as I made my way down to the Cleveland Yachting Club for Thursday-night racing aboard Robert Wilber's IMX 38 Mr. Ed. There are only so many Thursday nights in a summer, and as everyone who contributed to our "One Thursday Night in America" feature can attest, there's no better place to be on a summer evening than racing a sailboat, especially when there's wind.

Since we'd seen a northeasterly breeze for the past two days, the waves slapping against the south shore of Lake Erie were big enough to thoroughly douse us on the rail. But the water was warm, and the race was short, so I was perfectly happy to get wet. As is frequently the case for CYC's Thursday-night series, the race itself was uneventful, with a handful of 30-something-foot keelboats parading around a five-mile course. We started on starboard at the boat, made two tacks to the windward mark, jibed twice to the leeward mark, then completed another lap to the finish, where we corrected out over Nico Cottone's Schock 40 Schockstar for the win.

I've got a feeling a lot of races played out the same way last night. Nothing particularly exciting happened, and the racing could have been a lot more competitive. But it was Thursday night, mid July, and we were sailing. Life, for now, is summer.

_One Thursday night may be over, but you're just in time for our "One Saturday in America" event, which takes place July 16. For details, click here.