Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Y-Flyers; "Tim the Sailor"
When I was a senior in high school, my father moved the family to Youngstown, Ohio and I was introduced to Midwest lake sailing. We joined the Berlin Yacht Club , a small yacht club on Lake Berlin about twenty miles west of the city. We brought our Windmill out from Maryland and raced with the handicap fleet for a year or two before my Dad decided to buy a slightly decrepit Y-flyer and join the Y-flyer fleet. Club racing was usually two races on Sunday with a break for lunch and then a barbecue after the last race. Everyone started at the same time, on a line that extended from the club dock, and then we usually raced a circular course around permanent marks placed on the periphery of the lake. Depending on the wind, we would start going west or we would start going east. We might get a true beat, and then again we might not. To say this was a culture shock would be an understatement, as even back then, my sailboat racing in Maryland featured separate fleet racing around triangle courses with the first beat to windward. And then there was lake sailing where the wind was most times light to nonexistent and puffing from over there, oops.... now it's behind us, or now it seems to be wafting from above.
As frustrating as it seemed at the time, I have fond memories of racing a Y-flyer on Lake Berlin. There is just something about the Midwest sailboat racing that ratchets down the competitive buzz you get out on the coasts. The racing was fun, ludicrous at times but it made you humble; the people are genuine.
Probably no YouTube video out there epitomizes my Y-flyer racing on Lake Berlin than the following video about "Tim the Sailor". Light air degrades into drifting, then upgrades into light air, then degrades into drifting. There is the mass start where Tim starts next to a Thistle (never, never start next to a Thistle in light air, there are few boats anywhere in the world that can stay with a Thistle in the light to drifter). There is the parking lot, the inevitable bunch up where all fleets are mixed together. And there is that smile, when upon finishing, golly-gee-whiz, you have actually beaten a Thistle.
To Berlin YC and the Y-Flyer.........