09/05/12 by Willie Blevins

Sailboat racing begins at birth

The first words I said to both my sons

Were “stand by to come about”

The race starts now

Each race is different, each start unique

Variables abound, the wind in any instant

like a snowflake, or a fingerprint, never the same

the race starts now

Water, shaped by current and wave, moves around the appendages

with the coefficient of friction less than that of the stream bed.

(Point three or point zero three, can’t keep that straight)

The class flag is a warning, hard to miss if you are paying any attention at all

The race starts now

Of course you don’t have to play, everyone sails their own boat

By now you should have a strategy, and a plan

Not necessarily the same thing. Do you know

Which side of the course is favored? Do you know

Which end of the line is going to be your end?

Are the wind shifts persistent or oscillating?

Long past time to know the answers to these questions

The class flag is up, one minute later you’re racing

You know this because the preparatory flag is flying

and you were close enough to hear the horn.

This particular race started with the hoist of the prep flag

Because that is the rule

Your race starts now and now and now

You have three minutes to position yourself

such that when the prep flag drops the single

remaining minute is the perfect amount of time

to baffle the competition,

to find the only undisturbed wind,

to be at your chosen place on the start line,

to be pointing high and sailing fast,

Approaching the line, opportunities abound

They may not be your opportunities

It doesn’t matter, the race starts now

The class flag drops, you hear “all clear”

The race starts now

Of course, you don’t have to play


inspired by my friend Larry M.

One thought on “Starting

Leave a Reply