Sunset on the Baja
The Adventures of the Wasatch
When you reach the horizon, you're near  your journey's end
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Hobie From Heaven
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to the condo to  dry out and had forgotten to bring the mainsheet system back.  Without it, I couldn't sail the boat.  The cup started
disappearing once again.  Maybe forgetting the mainsheet had just been a Freudian slip.  In the back of my mind I was feeling guilty
that Linda and I were not going hiking today.  But Linda could see the disappointment in my eyes, so she offered to drive back to
the Condo and get the mainsheet while I finished setting up the boat.  The Condo was about 20 minutes away.  That meant it should
take about 40 or 50 minutes to get the mainsheet.  It would be close, but she might just have enough time before the race started.  
So Linda took off for the mainsheet, and I continued getting the boat ready to go.  I guess she had trouble finding the mainsheet,
because it had been over an hour, and Linda still hadn’t returned when the other boats started heading out on the lake to the
starting line.  I still had some time because the Heber thermal had not kicked in and the wind hadn’t come up yet.  Also they would
be starting the 21 class first before the 16 and open classes ten minutes later.  It was coming down to the wire.  I kept looking out at
the other boats jockeying around the starting line and then down the road from where Linda would be coming.  Still, no Linda.  Then
as the gun went off for the start of the 21 class, I saw my red Grand Cherokee with Linda behind the wheel coming up the road.  She
soon arrived and with her, the mainsheet.  I quickly shackled it on, gave Linda one last chance to join me out on the race course to
which she courteously, but firmly declined, and pushed off for the starting line.

I was about halfway to the starting line when the gun went off for the start of the 16 and open class.  The wind still hadn’t come up
yet so it was going to be awhile even to make it to the starting line, but I could see the white caps from up toward Mt Timpanogous
starting to march down the lake.  Then it hit.  The sails filled with wind, the boat leaned over, I swung out on the trapeze, and I was
on my way.  This was going to be an exhilarating, glorious day, excellent sailing conditions.  As I crossed the starting line, a guy on
the committee boat yelled out to me, “You’re too late.  Your race has already started.”  I yelled back as I passed by, “I know.  I’m
going to ketch up.”  I was not that far behind and the only boat I was really racing was the 14.  Even if I lost this race, I could win the
last two for the decision.  So I started making my way around the course.  Each race would be twice around the course from the
starting line in the middle, up to the windward mark, then down to the leeward mark, and then back to the finish line..  I soon caught
up with the 14 and some of the slower l6s and slid on by.  The faster 16s were proving to be more problematic.  Going upwind I was
not able to make up much distance on the three leading boats, but going downwind was where I seemed to reel in the distance.  
The Wasatch Mountain range was on the west side of the lake.  And as the wind came dropping down from Mt. Timpanogous and
across the lake, the Wasatch range had a tendency to channel and pile the wind up on the west side.  It created what might be
described as an invisible “river of wind” down the west side of the lake.  Apparently many of the other boats hadn’t noticed the
bigger whitecaps under the “river of wind” on the west side yet, because after rounding the weather mark they were bearing off
and heading to the east side of the course.

As I rounded the weather mark for the last time, there were just three boats in front of me.  These three had rounded the mark and
gybed over to the west. After rounding the weather mark I also gybe over and followed them down.  But then about a third of the
way down the “river of wind” they gybed and headed to the east side.  I continued heading deep down toward the west side until I
ran at of room on the western shore and then finally gybed and headed for the east.  As the 16 leader made his final gybe for the
leeward mark, I made my final gybe.  Surprisingly, I was half his distance to the mark and comfortably in the lead.  After rounding up  
around the leeward mark, I sailed the short upwind leg on port tack to the western shore, tacked to port and headed for the finish.  
To my surprise the hobie 16 leader had made up a considerable amount of distance on me with the leeward mark rounding and with
the tack over on the western shore.  But now I was on a beat to the finish and he was in my wind shadow.  Soon he tacked up
windward of my track to get out of my dirty air, but at this point it was only adding extra distance for him to the finish.  As I crossed
the finish line, I could feel the power of the wind in the sails, and the 18SX under me seemed like she was having a great day.
After finishing the first race, most of the boats were just hanging out heave to on either side of the finish line waiting for the other
boats to finish.  Finally all of the boats crossed the finish line and we were ready to start the second race.  My game plan was just to
hang back, as I had done the previous day with Linda, let the first line of 16s cross the starting line, and then follow them across
with plenty of room.  However, as I was hanging back behind the 16s which were jockeying for position, I noticed a hole opening up
in between the last boat approaching the line and the committee boat.  As the clock ticked down and the wind was starting to kick
up, the 18SX was chomping at the bit to get going and started heading for the hole in the line.  As the gun went off she hit the hole
with pretty good speed.  Extending out as far as I could on the trapeze, and feathering the boat a bit into the wind I was just able to
keep the windward hull down kissing the water.  The fleet was headed toward the east side of the lake. The 18SX was able to point
slightly higher than the 16s, and  I began to sail over them.  One at a time I worked my way up the line.  As I passed, each 16 in turn
would tack immediately to get out of my wind shadow and head for the other side of the lake.  Finally only the 16 leader was left
ahead of me.  Although we were headed toward the less windy east side of the lake, the overall wind was increasing and I lost my
speed advantage as I was having to dump a little of the wind out of my mainsail to keep the hull down.  The 16 leader wasn’t gaining
distance on me but he wasn’t losing distance on me either.  The skipper of the 16 looked like he wanted to tack and head for the
other side of the lake with the other 16s, but he didn’t have enough room to tack in front and clear my boat which was on a
starboard tack.  I wanted to tack too and I really didn’t want to get in his way, but I knew with my decreased maneuverability as a
single hander, I would have a slow tack.  He would then tack and sail over me and I would be in his wind shadow.   I would then be
losing even more ground to double tack to get out of his wind shadow.  So I just maintained my heading and we both sailed toward
what seemed to be oblivion on the east side of the lake.  Finally the wind eased into my wind range and I began to pull ahead.  He
immediately slowed down and tacked behind me.  As I looked down from up on the wing, when he crossed my wake, our eyes met.  I
could see a cold anger in his eyes.  My eyes returned his look with a weak apology.  Although technically I had just as much right to
be where I was as he had to be where he was, the real race was among the 16s.  The open class, at least this year, was a tag along, a
side show.  The polite thing for me would be to keep out of his way.  I would have to do a better job next time.  Soon he was gone,
following the other 16s to the other side of the lake.

Now alone with plenty of room on this side of the lake, I tacked and followed the other boat to the west side, albeit a bit more to
windward than they were.  As I headed toward the other side I noticed that the 16s weren’t pointing as high as I was.  The wind was
picking up now and I was having to pinch very close to the wind to keep my windward hull down.  At this moment I could have used
Linda sitting on the wing to help me hold the boat down.  But, in fact, I was still maintaining pretty good speed and making good
progress to windward, perhaps even better than the 16s ahead of me.  And on my current course, I might be able to lay the
windward mark with just one tack over along the western shore.  Things were actually looking very good.  
As I approached the other side of the lake I was well to windward of the other boats, who by now had tacked and were headed
toward the east.  If I were to make the windward mark lay line with just one tack, I would have to sail as near to the western shore as
I could.  I would also be able to take advantage of the lift that ran along the shore and squeeze out some extra distance to
windward.  Ahead of me lay a small cove which would allow me to sail even a little further into the lift, but once in the cove I would
have to make a perfect tack.  A missed tack in this little cove and there would be no second chance.  As I entered the cove I began
to turn the boat into the wind, swing in from off the trapeze, unharness, let go of the mainsheet, and get ready to tack the jib.  It was
at this moment that Murphy reared his ugly head.  The boat stalled head to wind and went into irons.  I quickly looked around to see
what had happened.  In my eagerness to get in off the trapeze I had inadvertently cleated in the mainsheet as I was unharnessing
from the trapeze.  With the mainsheet cleated in the mainsail had weather vaned the boat into the wind.  I quickly uncleated the
main and with the jib still cleated in tried to fall off the wind and gain some speed to try another tack, but the bow bottomed out on
the shallow water.  I then hauled in the main to weather vane the boat into the wind again, then released the main, reversed the
rudders, and tried to back around, but the rudders were stuck in the mud.  By this time the 16s were headed back toward me.  Out
of the corner of my eye I watched the Hobie parade march up and each in turn, tack just in front of me and sail off to the windward
mark.  It was disheartening to see the lead that I had worked quite hard for, evaporate before my eyes.  But it was even more
disheartening to know that they were watching me over here floundering in the mud.  At this point I was utterly frustrated.  I couldn’
t go forward and I couldn’t go backward.  I thought about getting off the boat and turning it around, but I wasn’t sure of the racing
rules in this particular situation and I thought that I might be disqualified.  Finally I sheeted in the main to weather vane the boat into
the wind again, then released the main and  pulled up the port rudder to allow the boat to back around the starboard rudder, hauled
in the jib on the port side so that the boat would fall off the wind, and then as the boat began to gain speed and I got some rudder
control back, I locked the port rudder back down, started sheeting in the main, swung out on the trapeze, and I was free and on my
way.

As I looked up toward the windward mark, the parade of Hobie 16s were rounding the mark and peeling off down wind at a
frighteningly fast speed.  I still had a ways to go to get to the mark.  To make matters worse, in getting free of the cove, I had to fall
off the wind quite a bit, and now it was going to take another two tacks for me to lay the windward mark.  At that moment morale on
the boat was low.  It was time to reassess my situation, time to reassess my race strategy, and even time to reassess my goals for
the race.  In fact for a brief moment, I thought about just bagging it, and heading on back to shore.  Then I thought about my other
options.  Now alone on the course I could continue on, sail the course and still probably win the open class.  After all, my only actual
competitor was the Hobie 14 still somewhere behind me out here on the race course.  The word on the beach before the race
started was that, although he was doing the race circuit this year, he was pretty new to racing and came in just about last in every
race he had been in.  I could still win the cup.  Also I could see how many of the Hobie 16s now ahead of me I could move up on.  
Besides I was really out here today just to have a good time.  It was a great day for sailing, a brisk invigorating September day with
an exhilarating wind.  I could have a great time sailing and still win the cup.  I would win the cup for Linda.  
Now alone by myself, I began to relax and focus on the wind, the water, the boat, and the sailing.  My spirits began to lift as I felt the
pull of that invisible magical force of nature lifting me up and propelling me along, trapezed out over the water, floating on the
wind.  As I approached the windward mark the force of the wind was increasing and the whitecaps out over the lake were getting
bigger.  I rounded the mark, gybed toward the west and began the sleigh ride down the lake .  The cold mountain lake spray kicking
up from the bow was now reaching back beyond where I was on the aft windward corner of the trampoline.  I noticed the 16s, now
far ahead, had gybed over and were heading deep toward the east side of the lake.  As I continued to careen down the lake on the
west side, I began to realize that I was making significant gains on the rest of the fleet by staying in the now torrential river of wind
on the west side of the lake.  With my increased speed I was able to head the boat in an even deeper down wind angle.  Finally I
gybed over and headed for the east.  To my surprise, as I approached the leeward mark lay line, I had passed three of the six boats
that had been so far ahead just awhile ago.  I was back in the race.  And there was still time.  We had another run up to the windward
mark, then back down to the leeward mark, and then up to the finish.  I rounded the leeward mark, hauled in the sheets, swung out
on the trapeze, and started the long up wind slog.  Going upwind I was getting overpowered more often now, and although I did
manage to close on and pass one of the boats ahead, I was making disappointingly little ground on the two lead boats.