©2015 Peter Crawford©2015 Peter Crawford

PROJECT-SAIL/TEAM HYDRA : Sparkling Grape Juice

5 December 2015

Project Sail — Team Hydra
Day Three Summary
Friday, December 4, 2015
Lexi Petter

Sparkling Grape Juice

Today started with a postponement. Seemingly endless rain pounded on the roof of the DV trailer as we waited restlessly with the Delta and Volpe teams under the awning that extended in to the parking lot. Henry Fernberger and I half-heartedly sang “Singing in the Rain” as we sloshed through thick puddles in our sailing shoes. The inconsistent front that our weather men (Chris Bedford and Doug Charko) predicted loomed above us this morning. Around 1000, we reconvened, and we heard the good news that we would head out to race.

Decked in spray gear, the team readied Hydra for race mode. With the help of the resident pros, we have become familiar with the procedures required before going out to race. We left the dock ready for a good day of competition. The typical strategy talks ensued on the following trek out to the ocean. Marty, Morgan, and Mitchell huddled in the stern and exchanged tactical plans while the rest of the crew rigged sheets, tidied up down below, and did the other prep necessary for the day.

By the time we reached the race course, though, the wind still hadn’t built enough. We meandered around the race area while chatting and joking about our various sailing exploits. Although we may be young, we still share that same sailor quality we all love to hate: swapping stories. Mac’s infectious grin made his stories especially funny. Marty’s occasional tale made us laugh hard, too. It was great to see the team so at ease.

Race time came with the filling, right-shifting breeze, however, and we switched in to race mode. Our first start went very well. Those of us who spend most of our time hiking and looking at our feet got to enjoy the extra adrenaline rush of seeing boats in close proximity to our toes as we pushed our way to a good spot on the line. Many props to Morgan, Mitchell, and Marty for calling excellent tactics on that start—it really set the tone for the rest of the day.

Suddenly, we all realized that we stood a fighting chance in this event. We hiked harder, planned more strategically, and applied ourselves even more intensely to the challenges we faced. Although today was only our second day on the boat together as a complete team, we all felt an universal spark that fueled our drive. As Sam Rogers said to the team at an earlier debrief: “it’s all about what lights a fire in your belly.” The fire was lit, and we were ready to rumble.

Our upwind speed proved formidable while our downwind speed seemed comparable to our competition. Tactically, we largely pushed Marty’s constant theme: fewer tacks, fewer jibes, keeping it simple. This proved advantageous to us.

The second start progressed less smoothly than the first, but despite that we made a decent comeback. Later on, our third and last start of the day put us on the line, on time, and with speed. Like our first start, the third brightened all of our spirits and inspired the team to hike even harder on the upwind beats. I know that the rest of the team sports similarly bruised hips as a result. The black and blue pattern on my lower belly makes it appear like a rally car ran over my hip bones. It’s all worth it, though!

Tonight’s generous hosts, the Hood family from Canada, invited all of the participants of the Melges 32 Nationals to their beautiful Fort Lauderdale home for appetizers, drinks, and dinner. I didn’t know about the class’s tradition of daily awards, so it surprised me when our team and all the others were called out on to the patio to hear Sam Rogers announce today’s leaders. Argo took the cake today, as we all anticipated, and Jason Carrol (one of our sponsors) graciously accepted his winning bottle of champagne after the second and third place boats took their bubbly. Next, Sam joked that he wasn’t sure whether the Corinthian champs from today should receive sparkling grape juice or wine, and we instantly knew that our team, Hydra, had performed as well as we had hoped. (We’re often—fondly, I hope—referred to as “the kids” or “the youths” at this event.)

Morgan Kiss graciously accepted our bottle of champagne and brought it back to the team. It felt good to be recognized for how accomplished we felt today. One of the crew from the DV program, Jonathon, said to me that we on Hydra “keep the other teams honest.”

Personally, I hope we keep them on their toes.