Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A College Sailor's Life: Light Winds Call for the “Bailer Game”

By Kelly Stannard

Well we just wrapped up another awesome weekend for the Hawks. All around I’d say it was a successful weekend for the team. Some standout performances should be mentioned, at the Moody, we won! At the Hobart Intersectional we placed fourth, with Andrew Tamblyn and Josh Gershuny winning B division! At the Navy Women’s Fall Intersectional we finished up in seventh with Annie Shmidt and Wendy Reuss placing third in B division.

I was stranded on an island off of URI somewhere in the Point Judith Salt Pond competing for the Moody Trophy, and boy was it a hot, which was nice considering its October! The weekend had light winds both days which we loved - both of our boats were on the lighter side. With the light winds it was shifty and made for some interesting racing.  URI is located all the way inland in one of the many salt ponds in the area, racing must be done outside the pond and rotations happen on a small island about half way out of the pond. It is a rocky and uninhabited, very small little chunk of land with lots of rocks and not much shade. We made sure to pack our own beach chairs to lounge in between our sets and soak up some of the last warm weather of the year.

On Saturday my skipper for the event, Alec Anderson and I found that our starts basically stunk. The line was fairly short and a port tack approach looking for a hole late typically didn’t work well for us. Luckily we had great boat speed and were able to squirt out off the line and tack our way into a nice lane upwind to get back into the racing. It was extremely shifty and keeping our heads out of the boat and constantly talking about the conditions kept us in the top pack.

Sunday the breeze was temperamental and didn’t fill until almost noon. This allowed for lots of “the bailer game” on the island. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this game it is a simple way to pass time and entertain a large group of sailors while they wait for wind. You take a bailer, place it about 5-10 yards away from you, depending on your rock throwing skill level,  and start to build support around the bailer with large rocks or sand. It is important to properly support the bailer so that when larger rocks get thrown it will not fall over. After the bailer is in place everyone picks up small rocks around them and the goal is to get your rock into the bailer. It’s amazing how long this can entertain people. Naturally the game progresses to throwing larger and larger rocks with increasing force, we inevitably ended up cracking several bailers this weekend.

After some quality time spent throwing rocks at a bailer, the breeze eventually filled and was even more shifty than Saturday! This kept everyone on their toes and it was fun conditions to race in for the last few races of the event. You really couldn’t ask for a better weekend of sailing, it was warm and sunny, I played games with a bunch of fellow sailors, and we won!

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