Sorry Tracy. You can show me the Laser.org trick tomorrow.... It’s Go Time! Today was opening day for the 2009 Master’s NA’s in Wrightsville Beach NC hosted by the Carolina Yacht Club and event organizer Arland Whitesides. 97 boats registered for the event and the registration check in process was completely painless. The weather cooperated much better than it could have as we were surrounded by storms to the east and west of us, but never got nailed. For the most part all of the races were held in about 5-12 knots of breeze that came from the SSE and allowed us to get in 3 races. There was a bit of left over chop with the ever present ocean swell that made it a bit challenging to keep the boat moving up wind and teased you with the temptation to try and surf them down wind. Everybody had their game faces on today. The mood in the boat park seemed a little more serious than what I remembered from 2 years ago. Several folks are using this event as their tune up for the Worlds coming up in August and are concentrating on doing well. Everyone rigged up and headed out for the 12:00 start. 93 boats made the starting line which was extremely long. The swell and chop made it impossible to get a truly accurate line site with the compass wobbling all around so you ran with a 10 degree margin of error on the line site. The pin was roughly favored for start 1. We managed to get going after only one general recall race. I realized how line sites and all that other crap basically go out the window on a massive line with so many boats. You can’t hear any of the horns from the signal boat after the 1 minute horn and you just go with the fleet doing your best to keep your bow out, not get stuffed by the guy below you and praying you’re not over early cause there’s no way in hell you’re going back. I managed to get off the line about 15-20 boats lengths from the pin with decent speed and a lane to go with. Going left on the first beat seemed to be the thing to do as with the chop it was just an easier angle to sail. Those of us who went that way came out in decent shape at the top mark. The downwind was typical downwind laser sailing. Find a clean lane and sail by the lee trying your best to heat it up and catch any wave possible. I think I lost some boats on the 1st DW, but I went back left on the 2nd upwind and gained them, (plus a few more) back. The course was 2 upwind legs, 2 down wind legs followed by a short, tight reach leg from the left offset DW mark to the finish boat. The goal on the 2nd DW leg for me was to get left and protect the inside lane. I did that, rounded the final mark and finished 18th. This was ABOVE my expectations and I was quite happy. Race 2 didn’t go so well. There were 2 general recalls before the PRO went straight to the black flag. I was stuck 2nd row about mid line and had to take 2 tacks to get a clear lane. I actually thought I had managed to recover from a bad start pretty well until I got to the weather mark and had to hunt for a spot on the starboard tack lay line train. Let’s just say my ticket was not in the business class section. However, the highlight for me was trading tacks and jibes with Dick Tillman all the way around the course. We must have swapped positions 6 times. I’d cross him, he’d cross me, he’d pass me on the DW leg and I’d get him back. In the end I got the overlap on him at the final DW mark and reached to the finish to take a 40th. Mr. Tillman was right on my heels with a 41st. After we finished he had a big grin on his face and said something to the affect of, “We were neck & neck through that whole race!” That was the coolest moment of the day for me. Thank you Mr. Tillman. Race 3 was similar to race # 2. There was 1 general recall before the black flag came back out. I went near the pin end again and came off the line pretty well. A few BL’s to leeward of me and a little more punched out was Mike Mattan. Mike is a pretty damn good sailor and he knows his way around a big fleet so I figured I’d tuck in on his stern wake and follow. Now, if I had followed through with that plan I would have been well on my way to another top 20, but for some reason I became distracted and within 2 tacks he was gone and there I was, well, somewhere else, (when I figure out where I’ll let you know). By this time my body was getting pretty sore from the contortions I had put myself through squatting my 200 lb, 6’ 2” frame in the tiny cockpit for 4 hours. Concentrating was becoming more difficult and I just wanted to get in. This, my friends is the perfect mind set for a poor finish. So, up the first leg, down the DW, back up, back down, yada, yada, yada…….I finished in 46th. Poop! Speaking of Poop, I had a run in with an Old Poop, (I know this because the bumper sticker on the back of his Laser told me so) Mr. Fred Schroth, A.K.A The Gouvernail on the TLF and Sailing Anarchy. He made an expert crash tack while sailing on port to avoid me whilst I was on starboard. He’s a big guy, but damn agile when he needs to be. Thank you Fred. So, we’re done and time to sail back, (which is another race for the hot water in the showers). Finally, motivated by the thought of a hot shower I kick in the afterburners and use my local tide knowledge to pass 17 boats on the sail in. The added bonus to this was the club had servers handing out rum punch when you beached you boat! No kidding. One person brought my dolly to the beach while another had a tray full of rum punch drinks. I was not 3 feet out of the water before a drink was in my hand. That, my friends is what I call regatta management. BTW, this wasn’t your run of the mill “kiddie” rum punch. This was rum PUNCH. So, 3 rum punches, 1 hot shower, some great after racing socializing and a Mexican dinner with our class president Mr. Usher and his lovely wife, some really expensive margaritas, 3 Motrin with my bedtime miller light and I’m getting ready to turn in for the evening. However before I do here’s a few scoring highlights after Day 1. 1st Scott Young- Mr. Easter Bunny. 2nd Rudy Ratsep. 3rd Marc Jacobi, 4th Peter Shope. 5th Mark Bear, (2007 winner). 6th Ville Roberts. 7th Ken Swetka. 8th John MacCausland. 9th Mike Schmidt. 10th Peter Vessella. 11th Tracy Usher. 12th Andy Roy. 13th Martin Willard. 14th Ari Barshi. 15th Mike Matan. Another cool thing that happened today was this. We’re in the club house about an hour and a half after getting to shore and the club management comes out with copies on the day’s results for EVERYONE. Not just one copy posted on a bulletin board for everyone to fight over. Stay tuned. Race day # 2 report will come tomorrow night.