Our last meet of the 2021 sailing season against St. John’s Prep, was by far our most competitive. While the meet with Gloucester HS was close, losing in the last race of the best of five series, this was even closer. After the fifth and final race against SJP, we had won the regatta by 3 to 2. However, there were three protests in two of the races, which could have changed the result to a Manchester win by 3 to 1 or even 4 to 1. Experienced sailors often say that when a race is decided in the protest room, there is at best a 50/50 chance of succeeding, no matter how sure you are of the outcome. In a protest, each skipper presents to the jury (in this case the SJP and the ME coaches) his or her interpretation of what happened in an incident, according to the Racing Rules of Sailing. The jury then discuss the evidence and decide who won the protest. “Going to the Room” is never a satisfactory way to decide the outcome of a race.
In the third race, which we lost by a score of 8 to 13, if one of our skippers had successfully protested an SJP skipper, we would have won the race by placing second, third and fifth, for a score of 10 versus 11. In that case we would have won the regatta by 3 races to 1, but, in the end, we lost the protest. We won the fifth race on the water, with a 1, 3, 6. However there were two protests by SJP against ME, resulting in a disqualification of an ME boat for a port/starboard incident and a DSQ of two more ME boats at a mark-rounding. While we won the race on the water, we lost “in the room.”
Despite the close finishes and the unfortunate loss of the protests, our team sailed better than my expectations and won three races on points before the protests. Rather than being disappointed by the outcome, I was pleased with the results, because of what it portends for future seasons.
The Last Days of Practice
We rounded out the last week of the schedule with two more great practices in strong winds and sunny conditions. In these two sessions, the younger skippers, Ava, Ian, and Matthew did extremely well, and showed how much they have learned over the past few months. In fact, they consistently beat one of the top three skippers, indicating that we will have a much larger pool from which to draw our top three boats for next year’s racing. It was evident that we would have a small and inexperienced team this spring, but I knew that the light regatta schedule would allow for more time to work closely with each sailor. The entire team has progressed dramatically over the season, especially the Ninth and Tenth graders.
On the last day of practice, the team decided to forgo sailing, and at the instigation of Coach Matthew Brzezinski, celebrated instead by racing paddleboards around the harbor and gorging on chips and cupcakes. A cool and windy day in May was not enough to dampen their enthusiasm, and a few decided to “chill” even further by ending the day’s competition with a swimming race, sans drysuit, back to shore. Between bites of cupcake, the lone senior on the team bid adieu, as she will be joining the sailing team at Salve Regina this fall. We hope that Liv will continue a long tradition of graduates coming back to Tuck’s Point to coach and race with us.
I look forward with confidence to next year’s High School sailing season, knowing that this summer all team members will continue to build on this spring’s racing experience by either teaching sailing or joining the MSA to race 420s and Lasers. I hope as well that they will work on developing “feel”, that rare facility to translate the subtle pressures of wind and water, through the sensation of the tiller, the pull of the mainsheet, and the heel of the boat, into speed. We will have a much stronger team when we return in the spring of 2022 than when we began, just two and half months ago in the frigid days of mid-March.