I just returned home late last night from an incredible weekend of Jet sailing at Severn Sailing Association. Fleet Captains Eric Johnson and Cathy Cotell were gracious hosts and worked hard to get the local sailors out. Weather was almost perfect, with temperatures in the mid-upper 60s and a beautiful (but shifty!) 5-10 kt. northwesterly most of the weekend.
Eric will provide the highlights for the racing but I’d like to share what I thought were the best moments of the weekend. After racing on Saturday, Eric arranged for a fleet dinner at Cantlers, a legendary local crab shack. This place was so legendary that you had to wait 20 minutes to park your car before you had to wait 20 minutes for a table. It was a tribute to the SSA fleet that everyone out sailing that day made the effort to share a table with their out of town guests. I found out that Ed Lutz has about 232 boats (“I just love boats!” he exclaimed), graduated from the Naval Academy a long time ago and had JFK as his commencement speaker. I learned that Gary Mentesana‘s father learned to sail by reading a book and that Gary’s college housing was a beachfront house which didn’t encourage studying. We found out that Cathy Mentesana won’t take shit from Gary in the boat, and that Chris Wood doesn’t know the sail number of his own boat.
The SSA fleet couldn’t be more friendly on the water, even as they are kicking your ass. Gary and Cathy are always thinking 4 steps ahead of everyone else, and then even try to take the blame when a certain port tacker almost t-boned them. Eric and Cathy C. somehow make you feel O.K. that they are passing you again on the run. You couldn’t tell whether Ed and Chris had finished last every race or won the regatta based on their demeanor after racing. All thanked us profusely for coming out and supporting their event. Good vibes.
I received an uplifting email this morning from my crew Connie Berchem . When my regular crew was unable to make the trip I sent out a desperate call for help and Connie unexpectedly said “Hell yes, I’ll go to Annapolis with you!”. I didn’t know Connie that well from our group in Asheville – she had had an incredibly rough stretch of life the past couple of years and wasn’t around that much. But we had absolutely the best time in the boat, and she was an incredible source of encouragement and strength even when I was making my typical tactical errors. She kept thanking me over and over again for the opportunity. On our trip home, Connie told me that she wants to get a Jet of her own.
Regattas are so much more than winning or losing (yes, winning feels good I heard). What is important is to show up – you never know nor will realize ahead of time how much good will come out of it. These are the moments that bind us together and give us the energy to continue forward. I was worried about how our friends at SSA were going to stick through this challenging period, but after this weekend I know they got this.