After an absence of 15 years I returned to the Raritan Yacht Club Wednesday night for an evening race.
The captain and crew of Tango were kind enough to take me aboard, despite the fact that I showed up without notice.
As it turned out, it wouldn’t be an ordinary night of racing.
The jib halyard wasn’t moving, and after some pulling and yanking it was decided to send the bowman, Louis, the youngest, bravest (and lightest) crew member up the mast to fix whatever was broken.


At RYC they don’t mess around. During pre-start maneuvers we had a couple of close calls, but none were closer then the one we had with the committee boat.
With seconds to go before the start, close-hauled and at speed, the competition closed the gap between them and the committee boat.
An attempt was made to fall off and below our competitor, but because we were gaining on him there was no room.
A collision with the committee boat seemed seconds away, the tactician was yelling for a tack and the crew (including me) scrambled under the boom.
I had wanted to run to the bow to shoot the imminent T-boning of the committee boat, but being new I went under the boom with everyone else, and thus missed what I believed would be the most dramatic moment of the night.
I was wrong.
We missed the committee boat by about 10 inches. One crew member said it was a foot, others said it was less. Regardless, it was small enough to make the committee boat members head for the stern and bow of the boat as we approached.
A quick 360 degree turn got us across the starting line and on our way upwind.
We gained on a Melges 24, but we had to make two rapid and successive tacks to avoid traffic behind us.
The spinnaker run was not without complications, but we made it to the lower mark and headed back upwind.
We sailed through the remainder of the field as they were still on their spinnaker run, when we heard a loud bang and our tactician started yelling for us to drop the sails because we’d touched masts with another boat.


A J29 had passed below us, and when he was covered by our sails, his boat apparently rolled into our mast and ripped the top of our new genoa.


Unfortunately for the J29, the collision snapped the top 6 feet off his stick, which hung limply down by the sail.


Here’s a closer view, which is cropped out of the photo above this one.
The bad news is they lost their stick and we lost our gennie, but fortunately, nobody was hurt.
I wish I’d shot the collision itself, but I was performing my duty as railmeat and I was on the wrong side of the boat when the collision occurred.
So, an eventful night. I’ll be back.

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