Committee boat for Bob Cooke Memorial


My friend Bill Brayton called me up and asked if I wouldn’t mind using my little boat, yacht, rather, as the race committee boat for the Bob Cooke Memorial double-handed race.   “How can I say ‘no,'” I replied.   Cooke was a grizzled veteran of countless races.  He was racing literally weeks before the cancer called in the marker.  As somebody once wrote, “we all owe god a death, he who pays this year is quit for the next.”   The day before the race I gave the Pint a good waxing and got it looking Bristol-clean.

Bill was Principal Race Officer.   Doug Dodge joined the race committee, as well.  He also acted official race photographer.   As skipper of the race committee boat, I was worried that we lacked that Corinthian yacht-club appearance that exudes haughtiness and cultural capital.   So I rounded up some guys in blue-blazers to give the boat an official appearence.  We set off:

Race commitee

It was a fine day for a race, mid 60s and around 10 knots of wind that seemed to be building and filling in nicely from the west.  Once we got to Mandalay bouy Bill took the helm.  We dropped anchor when he had squared the start line with the first windard mark.   It was the deepest water the Pint has ever anchored in, but the 40′ of 3/8″ chain at the end of 200′ of rode and the trusty high-penetration anchor did the trick with no hassle. 

Fifteen boats had entered the race.  They were organzied into a six boat spinaker class and a nine boat non-spin. class.   With less than 4 mintues until the start of the race we found out that we were missing several key signal flags.  But Bill is a veteran P.R.O. and his experience paid off– since we didn’t even have the “delay” flag to hoist while we improvised a flag we needed, he said, “No delay flag, we’re starting.”    The spinaker start was routine.  A couple of boats lagged and there were no tactical coups or fouls.

spin start

Now, the 9 boats racing in the non-spinaker class were of a different start.  One of them was crewed by two novice women racers and a few others seemed to be novices at sailing.   Their start was close.  Pangea dazzled the race commitee by crossing the line simultaneously with the signal to start.  It was incredible to see a boat time it so perfectly.   However, Quiet Times crossed everybody’s stern on a port tack heading directly to the mark.  This is a tactical coup seldom seen in races.  When you are on a port-tack (wind coming over the left side of the boat) you do not have right of way.  So you can easily get bullied and muscled over the line too early.  These guys crossed just behind the stern of the boats and schooled the fleet.  Well done, lads.   Look at the left side of the photo and you’ll see a sail leaning the other way; that’s them. 

non spin start

Once everybody was off we sipped a beer, pulled anchor and the committee boat headed back.  Bill had called two perfect courses and we three on the committee got the fleets off on a seemless start. Later at the Channel Islands Yacht Club I was able to help finish some of the boats.  When I tried to pay for some beer a yacht-club matron said, “He’s skipper of the committee boat, he doesn’t pay.”

Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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