As it wouldn’t do to skip the sailing in the EC this year and miss the annual festivities with the tribe, my wife (Sunseeker) and son (Quasar) decided to come down and help with what we could on registration day. I spent the day on Friday doing inspections of first-timers and never-finished folks. It was a long and tiring day, made a little worse when I realized too late I’d forgotten to apply any sunscreen on my calves.
I don’t recall the exact number of boats I inspected, but it was a lot. With a few exceptions, everyone did a really good job of meeting the requirements. However, I did see a few things that prompts me to offer some advice for future first timers.
Reefing: If you show up on Friday and are installing the necessary hardware needed to reef your sails, expect to be DQ’ed. The fact you haven’t put a reefing system on your boat tells us you really haven’t ever sailed your boat in heavy weather before. The sail across Tampa Bay isn’t the best place to find out if your reefing system actually works. I’ve seen people rigging up reefing systems for what looks like the first time nearly every year and this should not be. Rig it up and TEST your reefing in strong winds before you unload on Friday.
Repair kit – I asked everyone I inspected “what do you expect to break?” Hint: the answer isn’t “nothing”. I’m sure there are some folks who get through a challenge with no breakages, but the experience of my many friends who’ve done WT challenges and my own experience suggests otherwise. Something always breaks. You don’t have to have enough tools and parts to build your boat from scratch, but you should have enough bits and bobs and critical spares to McGuyver your way out all but the worst gear failures at least to the point you can sail, row, or paddle to a location where you can perform more extensive repairs.
It was a pleasure meeting you all this year. It was a very informative experience to get to look over your boats and preparation. I even picked up a few ideas on how better to prepare for my own future challenges, and for that I’m grateful.