The Lazy Racer By Molly Winans ##Team Delirium, with coach Nate in the companionway and SpinSheet’s lazy editor hiding on the rail. Photo by David McCullough
hen you’re the editor of a sailing magazine, sailors make assumptions about you. That you sail is a safe one. That you sail well is a matter of opinion and context. I may be great at it when on a beam reach in 12 knots and a bit sketchier in light, shifty breezes or during a blow. The assumption that I speak “sailing” fluently is legitimate, as I work in words and could not perform my job without knowing the difference between keel and heel. It’s when sailors assume that I’m an enthusiastic and/or competent racer that we get tangled up. Years ago, I received an invitation to race on a Wednesday night with the successful Contraire crew, about whom I was writing an article before they retired. When I boarded the 16 July 2021 SpinSheet.com
boat, someone said I must be a level something-or-other and might help on the bow. I said, “Huh?” They thought I was some sort of professional sailor. I didn’t know the level system. I’m the last person in Annapolis you want tripping around on your bow during a race. “I’m a magazine editor,” I told them. “I drive a desk.” When I get an invitation to race, if I accept it, which happens rarely, I always make it clear that I’ve done a lot of racing, yet it was a long time ago. Even when I did regularly race, I acted as rail meat or occasional squirrel. I’ve worked the pit maybe four times, twice on L’Outrage in the late 90s, once on Jubilee in 2008, and last weekend when I practiced for the
Herrington Harbour Sailing Association’s (HHSA) Women’s Regatta aboard the J/33 Delirium. As with any racing invitation I accept, I made it clear that they may want to invite someone more experienced or at the very least competitive. They always think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I’m a sloth. I’ve never understood the go-fast mentality or rushing to grind or change sails. I’d rather sail slowly and sip iced tea. While cruising, I used to read underway. I’d forewarned my skipper Eunice Lin and her amazing team of HHSA racing women. Once we got the sails up and assumed our positions, I think they understood how out of my comfort zone I was. They couldn’t have been more helpful, patient, or gracious as I figured out which line was which or what the heck a check stay was. As you read this, the HHSA Women’s Regatta (June 26) is on the books. If you learn that Delirium won it, you can rest assured that it was not because of me; it was because of the skills of the cool team of women Eunice assembled, many more talented that this lazy editor. Our sunny practice day did get my blood flowing, stretched my brain a bit, and infused me with a newfound respect for racing. As often as I write about it—which I very much enjoy from the safety of my desk—to see racing sailors in action, even during practice, reminds me of how hard they work and how thoroughly they think through each maneuver to get it right. Thanks to Eunice and the Delirium team for inviting me to do this regatta! If you’re a woman interested in improving your sailing skills and meeting a dynamic community of sailors, keep your eyes on SpinSheet Club Notes to hear more about HHSA’s Women Underway program or visit hhsa.org.