The Adventures of the Wasatch
When you reach the horizon, you're near your journey's end
Hobie From Heaven
Coming in off the trapeze, I rounded the windward mark, gybed over, and followed the two boats in front of me down toward the west
side of the lake. By now the wind was really howling and it was particularly intense over here on the west side. Several of the Hobies
had already gone over, among them the 14. My leeward bow was now riding quite low in the water and coming dangerously close to
submerging in the puffs. As a result I had to ease the mainsheet out quite a bit beyond its usual downwind setting in order to over twist
and depower the sail bringing the leeward bow up out of the water to a bit more comfortable margin of safety. This actually provided
several other benefits. With the extra twist in the mainsail it increased the downwind sailing groove, and more importantly it allowed me
to sail a deeper down wind angle without losing too much speed and probably even increasing my speed made good to leeward.
Consequently, on my present heading, I would be able to ride the “river of wind” on the west nearly to the leeward mark on a single
gybe. As I careened down the lake at the back of the 18SX, penetrating into the furocity of the windier west side, my eyes were fixed on
the two boats flying before the wind in front of me just beyond reach. While still a considerable distance from the western shore of the
lake, the second boat gybed over and headed to the east. Not long after, the leader gybed over and followed him. I took this as a sign
that the gods were on my side. Now I would have the “river of wind” all to myself. As I drew toward the western shore, the wind got
stronger and stronger and boat went faster and faster. It was an exhilarating day to be out on Deer Creek careening down the lake,
teetering on the edge of control, flying before the wind. Finally I gybed over and headed for the leeward mark. The Hobie 16 leader was
now well ahead of the second boat and on his final gybe for the mark.
As I approached the leeward mark from the west, the Hobie 16 leader, coming from the east, was also closing rapidly on it. I no longer
wanted to politely stay out of his way. I wanted to win. And as I reached the mark and gybed over to round the mark, it was deja vous....
all over again. I slid down in front of the Hobie 16 leader just as in the previous race, although this time he was right on my heels. The
race wasn’t over yet. We still had the leeward mark to round, a short upwind leg to the western shore, a tack, and then a beat to the
finish. I would be slower than he would be on both the rounding and the tack, and with the wind blowing like it was, he might well have
the edge on up wind boat speed. As I rounded the leeward mark, I pushed the tiller down with my foot, and as the boat rounded up into
the wind I hand over hand the main sheet until the windward hull came up out of the water, then hauled in the jib, momentarily grabbed
the tiller to pull the boat back off the wind, swung out on the trapeze, momentarily grabbed the tiller to again pull the boat back off the
wind, finished hauling in the main once out on the wing, and finally picked up the tiller which was resting on my ankle and steered into
the groove. All this accomplished, I had made a reasonably good rounding. The Hobie 16 leader had to slow down a bit to let me get
around, but then had made a tight turn with good speed around the leeward mark, and was now double trapezed right behind me but on
a slightly to windward track. He had made a perfect rounding. We were now on a port tack headed toward the western shore into the
full fury of the “river of wind.” In the puffs I was being overpowered and the 16 would begin to over take me. But in the lulls I would pull
back ahead. Although I couldn’t use the puffs for extra speed, I was able to feather up to windward each time and was just to the point
of choking off his speed and starting to pull him down into my wind shadow, but the shore was coming up and it was time to tack.
As we rapidly approached the shore and with the fiasco of the little muddy cove still haunting my memory, I decided to tack early and
give myself plenty of room. As I neared the shore and came in off the trapeze to begin my tack, I got a slight lift and was able to shoot a
little higher to windward. Then as I came onto starboard tack, the Hobie 16 also got this lift and tried to sail over the top of me and tack
in clear air, but at the last minute realized that he couldn’t make it and ducked down underneath me. As I powered up the 18SX, and
swung out on the trapeze to head for the finish line, I looked around to see where he was. He was now just behind me and a bit to
leeward, dead in my wind shadow. As I looked back, this time he made no effort to tack out of my wind shadow, but just drifted farther
and farther behind. This would now be a victory beat to the finish for me. And then from behind me I heard the faint distant words, “Get
out of my wind.” At first I was taken by surprised and wasn’t sure if I had heard him right, but as I thought about it, he might not have
realized that I was even suppose to be in this race. The day before Linda and I hadn’t come really close to any of the other 16s, and this
day I had started the fist race late, and the second race just behind the first line of Hobies. I really couldn’t feel that badly for him.
Among the 16s he had won the first race and he would clearly win this race. He had the 16 cup. I guess it was really a matter of
perspective. He thought I was in his wind. The point could be made that he was in my wind....my dirty wind.
As I crossed the finish line flying high on the wind, I footed off a bit without easing the mainsheet just so the 18SX would toss me a little
higher into the air, and looking up at the SX’s big blue sail merging into the expansive clear blue Utah sky, all I could think of was how
this mighty winged stead had delivered me from an ignominious defeat to a glorious victory....”The Hobie From Heaven”
I sold the 18SX number years ago. Now all I have of my Hobie Cat days are this picture and a lot of great memories. Looking at Linda and
me standing by the 18 SX on the shores of Deer Creek brings back the memory of one exhilarating day late in September of the chase
for the cup, and riding on the wings of the 18 SX to victory. I sometimes wonder if the 16 leader remembers that day. If he does, he
doesn’t remember “The Hobie from Heaven”. He remembers the Hobie from a lower place, a much, much lower place. But then, as I
look at the picture and the Hobie 18 SX, my thoughts wander to an earlier time, to a chase for another cup, perhaps for me, a chase for
the real cup, the real holy grail. It was a state of mind. It was a moment in time. It was sailing under a crystal clear, expansive Utah sky,
trapezed on the wing of the 18SX, out over the water and up into the air. It was....floating on the wind.