Thursday, June 25, 2009

Return of Eric Arens

Eric Arens was in town a week ago. He moved out to SF on the left coast some 20 years ago but we get to see him out East every five years or so. I am a member of the select club of Eric's International 14 crews back in the 70's and early 80's. From Annapolis that includes Ned Lawson, Roger Link, Dick White, Paul Weiss (somebody will have to fill me in on his West Coast crews). Eric still races the modern I14 with Alan Laflin (I think both Eric and Alan are 69 yrs in age) though they pick their days (as is their right!).

Eric learned to sail in an International 14; an extremely challenging ordeal but he persevered to become one of the top in the Annapolis fleet. Eric was always a very steady driver, you could depend on him to get around the course, sail side up, most of the time. Eric depended on his crews to give him tactical input, something rare in the 1970's, but which made crewing for him fun.

Eric was a talker; being a PHD physisist at NASA, he would sprinkle the sailing tales with interesting scientific topics. Eric was eager to learn, sailing or otherwise; if you had something interesting to talk about, he would listen intently. Just be ready for some probing questions if your logic was faulty.

After the days racing, the drill would be for Eric to help you get the I14 on the trailer and then he would be off, making his rounds of the dinghy park. It was the unwritten code of Eric's crews that you would put the I14 to bed. Eric might stop by and give you a hand and then he might not. You would shower and change and catch Eric still in his torn wetsuit and his torn canvas Topsiders..... still kibbitzing. If it was a cold day, Eric's lips were blue and he was shivering but he seemed not to notice. You would drive out and Eric was still talking. I don't know what time he got home but it drove his first wife nuts.

Tip of the hat to Bob Ames who hosted the party for old 14'ers to celebrate the return of Eric and to tell tall tales from long ago.

I'll have more from Eric Arens down the road

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