Rubbing is Racing

We were second out of twenty five J24’s on the third and last race of the night tonight going up the first upwind leg when we made a quick tack onto port to cover the lead boat. Forty five seconds later someone yelled oh shit right before a big white hull came crashing into our stern. We mis-judged their location and they did not avoid crashing into us at 7+ knots. It was quite the experience and for Brad, the new owner of the J24 I’m racing on, an expensive night (we also ripped the spinnaker, however, a new one had already been ordered). But that’s racing. If you’re going to run a competitive campaign in a fleet of 25 you have to expect a few mishaps. Hopefully we can start to minimize these mishaps and start moving up in the standings.

I find that none of my friends really understand racing sailboats. The can only picture it from ashore where they see a collection of white triangles slowly crossing the lake. What they can’t see is the four battered and bruised people inside the boats moving the sails from one side to the other every few minutes. Why? Because we all want to win and at the end of the day there is a lot of replay over beers. It’s also good clean fun, at least until the fibreglass starts flying.

Recently the Seattle Weekly took a look at the local race culture in, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea. I like this quote:

But racing isn’t always romantic. “If you want to know what it’s like to sail competitively,” says crew member Tim Cleary, “stand in a cold shower for four hours and tear up $20 bills.”

I’ve raced in a few different fleets in Seattle and I have to say the J24 is the most exciting by far. Sure they’re not the fastest boats, but they’re the largest fleet, and nothing beats 25 boats trying to cross the start line at once.

(Tonight was my third day on this J24. I’d actually been avoiding racing this summer because my plate was already full with hockey, biking and wakeboarding, but Brad needed someone last minute last Tuesday and was short crew for Saturday’s S.O.C.K.S regatta (Seattle One-Design, Centerboard and Keelboat Series) so I filled in. Anyhow we sailed five races at S.O.C.K.S. on the sound and had a blast and I think I’m going to have a hard time saying no to future sailing because it’s a good crew and fast boat. On the weekend I also ran into an ex-MSFTie, Tim who races Melges. Also tonight, sure enough, I had hockey after sailing. What a long night!)

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4 Responses to Rubbing is Racing

  1. Brad says:

    I’ve always thought it would be fun crewing on a racing boat. I did some sailing as a kid thru teens albeit on pretty small sailboats. How does one find a boat to crew for?

  2. Matt Goyer says:

    CYC ( is the big racing club in Seattle and they run races on both the sound out of Shilshole and on Lake Washington out of Leschi. I found my first couple opportunities by posting on their crew list on their website (their sites down so I can’t check that they still have on…) but that’s the easiest way to get hooked up. The other way is to just go out on race night and walk the docks and see if anyone needs crew. Tuesday is a busy night at Leschi and if you showed up at 4:30-5 you might be able to find a ride. Likewise if you show up at that time on a Wednesday at Shishole (north part of the marina where the boats are dry docked) you might be able to find a ride there. Or you could post a note on one of the bulletin boards at either location saying you’re available…

  3. Todd Gallant says:

    Sounds like your incident was pretty much the same as mine. Love racing J24’s. Hope you continue. Great fleet and boat. Enjoy.

  4. Todd Gallant says:

    Sounds like your incident was pretty much the same as mine. We were the boat crashing into the hull of the port tack in my incident. Non-sailors have a hard time relating to the rush of the start and sailing. They always ask…”how fast are you do you go?” They get this really puzzled look on their face when you say “about 10 km/hr, but it feels a lot faster”!

    Love racing J24’s. Hope you continue. Great fleet and boat. Enjoy.

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