“So off we go, round the course full of hope.” — Uffa Fox
Tiger Tale was launched earlier this week, after a two-day process, part of which had been interrupted by some much-needed rain. But, at long last, we got the mast stepped, the spars and rigging all put back together, and the new sails bended on. It’s always somewhat of a guessing game with getting the boat ready; you just do the best you can at the dock and then tweak things once you’re out on the wind. I always come back after that first sail, happy if everything stayed fastened, and armed with a list of “to-do” items as I figure out what modifications are necessary to make the boat go fast. Walking down the gangway back to the Club, it’s such a fulfilling feeling, knowing that the boat’s bobbing around on her mooring, just waiting for you to come out and play the next time the wind comes up.
When we arrived to work on the boat, it was a lively, happy scene at the launching dock, with several Twelves in varying degrees of readiness — some with sails already bended on, some with only spars and rigging, some waiting for their masts, and some still up on the hard, waiting for the crane. I wandered among the boats, conjuring up the faces of their skippers, thinking how happy we will all be when we are together again on the water – especially after such a long and dreadful winter. There were several weeks, back in February, when it seemed that summer and sailing would never, ever come.
As soon as we were finished getting everything ready, we sailed out through the docks — under jib alone at first, and then we hoisted the mainsail when we had more room. Our first voyage proved to be a good, all-around test, as we encountered a little bit of everything: a really shifty wind with strong, sharp-edged gusts, the requisite following lulls, wind shifts of 40 degrees here and there in the inner harbor, and then we topped it all off with a nice, hair-raising landing on the mooring, complete with a strong gust that hit just as we were approaching the pick-up buoy. Never a dull moment, right? And did I mention that the guys at the boatyard painted my buoy bright yellow so that I can always find it? I predict that I will be a trend-setter when people see what a great idea that was.
As we sailed around, we were happy to see several Twelves already out on their moorings, ready and waiting for their skipper and crew. Our fleet has a lot to look forward to this summer: we will be hosting our Class Championship, and will be celebrating our fleet’s 100th birthday. We will learn together and make mistakes together and, most importantly, we will respect each other and have fun together. Our fleet’s June Series racing starts next week, and I think that Uffa Fox’s lovely words sum up perfectly how we all feel on the eve of a new season: excited, optimistic, and ever hopeful.
Off we go!