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Local participants talk about the Byte NAs

Note: This is a work in progress, and will be updated as we receive more comments. Current entries are from Gail, Terry, Gaylin, Katie, and Karin. If you haven't contributed your thoughts yet, send them in now.

Gaylin Yee  --Had a fabulous time! The regatta was an amazing learning experience in heavy air. Since I'm a new Byte owner, this was my first time in heavy breeze and waves. Screaming reaches, treacherous downwind runs, and grueling upwind beats made this the most challenging sailing I had ever done.

I reveled in sailing in a large fleet... it gave me all the chances to try and immediately see the results of tips I had only before read about. I would think to myself: "OK, let's try steer to catch some of these waves on the run." I'd see myself only gain a fraction of boat length, and think, "Well, maybe I should use more weight and less tiller to steer to aim for some troughs" and I'd gain four boat lengths on someone else.

RYC did an incredible job of hosting. The courses were well set, and the many safety boats prompted me to risk it all at the gybe mark (with usually dire results).

But best of all was being able to sail with a wide range of competitors, ranging from barely in the teens to Grand Masters. It was nice to see so many people from far away, equally having a marvelous time in an Exciting regatta.

Gail Yando  -- I expected that this would be the most difficult Regatta I had ever sailed so in the spring, I stepped up my exercise program a notch and increased my sailing calendar a few more notches. The Clear Lake Clinic, scheduled 3 weeks before the NA's turned out to be perfect practice for the event. And what an event it was. I could never have completed 7 of the 8 races had I not been in top shape.

The Practice race and Day One racing were in Keller Cove with wind form 12 to 18 knots and that lovely little chop. Starting with 30 Bytes is a Hoot. You have to be aggressive or your in the second tear. My starts weren't bad but keeping up with those guys form Southern California, who could point higher and go faster than I've ever seen, was a challenge. My best shot at the first mark was probably a 5th. From then on I said goodbye to the leaders and played my own game with the Locals. Funny how we always seemed to be sailing around each other. Trish, Kati, Gene and I had our own races in the middle with Gaylin, Karin, Colleen and Terry visiting on occasion. The ride home after the Races on Fri. was one of the scariest for me. I came screaming into the Harbor on a broad reach heading for the solid concrete break wall. I through a frantic jibe and roll her in. I could hear someone else go down behind me and see another Byte capsized further up as I gave it my best to right my boat. To say I was tired is an understatement. Thank God for Less Durfee. He maneuvered his inflatable between me and the hull of a shinny big boat and gently scooped me up. Getting in seemed no problem but getting out of IRONS and heading down was. Another screaming reach to the dock and I made it with help waiting with my dolly and a pat on the back. Little did I know that this was just a taste of what lay ahead.

The races on Day Two and Three were on South Hampton. I thought the man I live with, PRO Del Olsen, liked me! The ride out to the course was a little longer but pleasant. Just as soon as you get out past the lee of Angle Island someone turns the Fan up. And so it was for two days. Winds and seas building through the day. The toughest races were the last. Some say we had gusts to 25ks. It seemed 100 to me. The shug up to the Weather mark was a test of endurance. How to keep the boat flat and get over those breaking waves. I tried all the tricks I knew and still had enough weather helm to ware a hole through my gloves and thumbs. The waves grew with every hour. Usually they were in sets and you drove over them but once in a while there seemed to be an extra one that you hit dead on and that stopped the boat and flooded the cockpit. But my favorite ones came form 'who knows where' and hit you square on the side and knocked you silly. I began talking to them and saying things like "that wasn't funny", With a flood tide you had to overstand the mark by bunches. This made for some interesting mark roundings, one of which was mine. "I can make it, I can make it, I can make it, oh oh, I'm not going to make it!!" I rapped the mark and rolled over into a capsize. Doing a circle, which includes a JIBE at the weather mark is not recommended.

But the real fun of this Regatta was the reaches. Once you rounded the Weather mark you dove to the back of the bus and just held on for the ride of your life. No ride at Disney World could be more exciting. We were clocked at 14 knots and that's going some in a 12 foot boat. Screaming over the top of those waves with a fire hose in your face, on the brink of disaster at every second, was a rush. But Lord, here comes the Reach Mark - jibe or chicken jibe, that was the question? It didn't seem to matter, I capsized either way. The second reach seemed more stable but needed more hiking. Again, we flew over the water, jockeying for the inside trying to stay upright. Rounding the bottom mark seemed like putting on the breaks after that ride.

Then there were the runs. You couldn't sit back far enough to keep that bow from submarineing. Do I dare go forward to pull the board up? Too scary. I'll leave it down. Green water over the bow. I'm on the back deck, trying to get back further. Jerk the main, the bow surfaces finally. Now we're surfing the waves. Someone next to me surfs forward, then I catch a wave and take the lead. This is fun. I'm learning to pump the waves to catch a ride.

Back at the Richmond Riviera there was much exchanging of war stories as we scrubbed the mud off our sails and spars. What aggravated or frustrated you on the water seemed very funny now. I got to know a young lady in her early twenties form New York, who was built like a Mac truck and totally focused on her racing. She taught me a few new tricks but mostly I learned from watching her methodical preparation for a race. Most of the Out of Town competitors were a bit too young to 'social' with but I got to know some very devoted parents and addresses were exchanged.

For me and I think everyone who participated, we took a giant step forward in our sailing abilities. We know we can more than just survive, we can race in the 'Big Winds'.

Terry White  -- I think the event brought us local gals and guys closer together in some ways, and also brought some of the rest of the world into ours. We made some new friends, and were able to share some of their knowledge. Also, being on the starting line with 29 other boats was a first for me and quite exhilarating and I learned a lot from watching everybody else.

I learned some things about my sailing technique and where I need to improve.

It made me realize that we can handle more than we might have thought. Before the event we may not have ventured into conditions like that (the winds and waves) for various reasons. But we were out there! We may have been in the water from time to time but all in all we handled it.

The bytes held up under those conditions. I didn't hear too much about any equipment damage, so there's some comfort in knowing that our boats can stand a test like that.

I think it would be good for us to venture beyond our own backyards to challenge ourselves further if we can swing it. I'm not sure where those venues would be....maybe huntington and other local lakes, maybe other parts of the country (so. cal or canada or even santa cruz?). just something to think about.

Softscrub works well to clean the mud off the top of a sail. (Check out my new sail...there's no mud stain from my various capsizes).

I'm sure there's more, but I look forward to hearing other people's impressions!

Katie Kirk  -- Monday was anti-climatic. What do I remember?

Sat., lots of Port/Starboards. Carlos most of the time did not know the course so I told him when he asked (4 times out of 8). Nicholas (#6) and I seemed to tangle at the finish except on Sunday when I could hear his holler of joy when he finished, that was when he finished ahead of me. Being over  early on race #8. I could keep the boat flat on Friday but could not most of the time on Sat and Sun.

On Sunday I cursed the guy who thought South Hampton was the better place to sail. I wishing for Keller Cove. Jean how is she doing it (all weekend)? Wow look at Gaylin foot off, how is she doing it (Sun)? Gail, what a tangle...(Sunday race 7, last leg). I can't believe it!!! Kati just did a "Chicken Jib"! (race #7 first leg?). "Boat you tried to drown me," last leg of the #8 race. Sunday after race #8,"Dear God, I pray, please lighten up on the wind, I want to go home in medium or light air!"

There it is....my impression of the Byte NA's.

  Karin Knowles  -- I had a great time,  in spite of almost quitting the regatta before it began.

I'd really psyched myself out worrying about this "big wind" event. How I wished for some lighter air! I can hum along on a reach for pure fun almost any time, but rounding a race course in competitive fashion on a windy, wavy day is something else. The Practice Day didn't help: I didn't even make it out to the race course and ended up clinging to the centerboard as my capsized Byte, sail caught up in the air, swept rapidly down the RYC harbor and under a moored powerboat. My house overlooks Keller's Cove and on the morning of Race Day #1 I could see the white caps build as I nervously picked at my breakfast. A flower pot blew over on my deck. Panic attack.

So, for me the regatta was about getting out there and coming back in good spirits -- and I did. My favorite memory is from the last day, triangle-sausage-triangle Race 7, when boats were capsizing right and left (no crash boats left to monitor mark roundings) and it came to me that although this had become a race of attrition, "I can do this."

This regatta taught me lots of things first hand: Smiling and laughing improves boat handling. Even the top competitors capsize. Chicken gybes can save the day. A Byte can completely submarine downwind even when you're sitting on the transom. Hiking out on a beat feels amazingly relaxing after a wavy, high-wind broad reach. Doing stretching exercises before and after racing produces miraculous results (thank you, Trish Moratorio). Starting with 29 other boats is really fun.

My non-sailing friends don't understand what this is all about and don't want to talk about it. A few even seem to disapprove -- something about acting my age. The camaraderie at the regatta was wonderful. The local fleet was great as always; I really love them. The other competitors and out of town guests always seemed willing to lend a hand or can of MacLube, provide sailing tips, and share good sailing stories. Several of the kids, especially Kate Foster and Annie Freitas and Debbie Capozzi, were ready to be friends with the "older ladies." The support boats and staff were there when needed and said they were really enjoying the regatta. What more could you ask for?

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last edit: 02/07/08