Hospice Cup 2013
Matt and I crewed in the annual Hospice Cup race this weekend, on a boat sponsored by his company. Wow what an experience. We’ve only raced once before and it certainly wasn’t as big time as the Hospice Cup. In hindsight, probably not the best time to volunteer with basically no experience, but of course that didn’t deter us.
We really wanted to see what the hype was, since it seems like everyone who’s any good with a boat has some sort of racing experience. Most all of the guys Matt works with are big racers, and nearly every time we tell someone that we live on a boat, we get the follow up question of “So, do you race”? It seemed like it was about time we fully immersed ourselves in the sport.
We headed over to West Marine to pick up some gloves the night before. Figured since we didn’t have the experience, we would at least look the part, right? We were tempted to buy a few other accessories, but didn’t want to be kicked off the boat before it even left the dock. Matt was obviously excited for the race and was already dreaming of taking home that shiny silver cup.
We also noted that the store aisles were filled to the seams with pallets upon pallets of anti freeze. Looks like winter’s coming even if we refuse to acknowledge it. Sigh.
Later that night we went to a pre-race party at Matt’s work to meet the rest of the crew and to bless the boats. Yep. There were two priest there that actually blessed the boats for the race the next day. The importance of the race was slowly beginning to sink in. There have been a lot of other race events and club teams throughout the summer, but none had this sort of pomp and circumstance surrounding them. Then we met the captain & the wife of boat we would be racing. They were legit. And intimidating. Christ, what have we gotten ourselves into?
We had a gorgeous view from the boat that night. Almost like the calm before the storm!
Saturday morning, the day of the race, we were out on the water by 10:00 leaving us enough time for a few dry runs of our positions before our 11:00 start time. Matt had gone out for a practice race earlier in the week, so he at least had some sort of idea of what he was supposed to be doing. I was just hoping I wouldn’t loose my breakfast over the side of the boat that was bobbing violently in the middle of the bay.
Oh yeah, now I remember why we chose to buy a catamaran. The stability.
When we reached the rendezvous, we all got a quick debriefing on what our roles would be. Matt was assigned to help raise the spinnaker and trim the mainsails. I was in the cockpit tailing sheets and helping to balance the boat when we were running down wind and the boat was turned nearly on it’s side. It turns out that about half of us on board were new to racing, so we were all thoroughly confused and a bit apprehensive about what we had committed to. Richard, our Captain, was pretty patient and kept repeating our duties as he threw back his IPA (OK - maybe this was going to be fun!). Meanwhile, his wife, Idaray was running around shouting instructions to everyone and laying down the rules of the boat. Never mess with a woman in neoprene compression shorts and moon boots. Ever.
By the time the race finally began, I was one beer and two Dramamine deep, and was fighting a nervous pit rapidly forming in my stomach. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing and trust me, everyone knew it. Matt seemed comfortable in his spot, even though I sort of suspected that he was faking it a bit.
To up the ante even more, the two other boats in our class were GOOD. One was this 50+ foot beauty of a boat with a crew of about 20. They were like, America’s Cup material. The boat had a dark gray mainsail which actually eclipsed the sun when it passed by us. It was like the freakin’ Black Pearl… sneaking up on us enough to throw us off, then vanishing into the distance-it was that fast. The other boat was crewed by a team of about 10 Navy midshipmen who had probably been racing boats since they were in diapers. Seriously, it was A NAVY SAILING BOAT, crewed by a team of twentysomethings. I mean, come on! Even if half their crew were amputees with one arm and no legs, they would probably still out sail us. I apologize for not getting pictures, but I was frantically trying to manage lines and not fall off the boat and into the water during this time.
We ended up only completing 2 of the 3 races. The wind was picking up to over 20 knots (about 30 mph) and the crew was threatening a mutiny. I was so thankful to be heading in early. Talk about intense! For 3 straight hours we were hustling … raising sails, lowering sails, trimming sails, tweaking lines, climbing over each other, falling into each other, scrambling over to one side of the boat, scrambling over to the otherside of the boat. Lots of shouting. It was exhausting …. and painful! I have so many bruises on my body from slipping on deck or having someone fall into me. And that’s nothing compared to the bruises on my ego! How do people find that fun? I can certainly respect the rush, especially if you know what you’re doing, but for rookie sailors like Matt and I, well… let’s just say we appreciated the experience, but you won’t find us volunteering for anymore races anytime soon! We're 100% CRUISERS!