Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pacific Dinghy Dash - Qualifying Round

Adventures in Dinghy Dash
Adventures in Dinghy Dash
Uploaded by toastfloats, taken by FIL George.
Two sports announcers sit on a set framed by a wide expanse of California beach. They smile into the camera as the male begins:

“We’re here today in lovely San Simeon for the qualifying round of the Pacific Dinghy Dash. The weather is perfect for today’s competition: sunny, with 9 knots of wind blowing offshore. Our competitors have been dropping anchor since Tuesday, drinking wine and exchanging boat cards as they prepare for this key round of the year’s competition.”

The female announcer is dressed casually in upscale athletic clothing. As color commentator, she is a former participant in this sport. “Jack, it’s a great day to start the Pacific Dinghy Dash and a great place to do it. The surf is breaking about 10 yards out consistently at 3 feet every 7 seconds. We should see the crews relying on a straight in approach, riding the last wave with a strong push of their motors and largely keeping their feet dry.”

Jack nods sagely, “I agree, Julie. Points will be awarded today largely on style and dryness. I doubt we’ll see much in the way of innovative approaches.”

Julie looks out over the water, “Our first crew is off the s/v Sea Horse. You’ll notice the captain’s classic slow approach. He’s got a hard bottom dinghy with two crew... and there you see him slide up to the back of the wave... a hard throttle...”

“Oh yeah! Look at that!” exclaims Jack.

Julie agrees, “That was lovely, Jack. Did you see how his forward crew came in with one leg curled up on the outside. He put it down just as they hit the shallows.”

“And the captain throttled his engine at precisely the right moment. Those are going to be high scores, Julie. Sea Horse is really setting the bar high today,” Jack points out.

“Yes, but we’ll have to go some way to compete with s/v Vindsong. Look at that dink!” Julie cries, “We’re looking at an old fashioned, wooden row boat.”

“That’s a beauty, Julie. The line glued along the teak edge is both handsome and dramatically increases the difficulty for his crew.” Jack continues ominously, “Getting out of that craft is going to be a challenge.”

“But his approach is solid, Jack. Look at him come in with his bow crew talking him up to the edge of the swell. That’s nice.” Julie watches for a moment, “Yes! There they go!!! Vindsong is rowing hard hard hard.... And THERE! Great elan. Fantastic exit! They both just elevated straight out of that boat and over the side.” Her partner comments, “I don’t think they’ll be getting much for dry feet, Julie, but they sure get points for level of difficulty.”

Jack continues, “Now we have newcomers to the event, s/v Don Quixote. This crew has competed before -- and quite successfully -- in the Pacific Dinghy Dock and Dinghy Drag. They in fact medaled in the Drag not once but twice. They are considered a force to be reckoned with here in San Simeon.”

Julie is doubtful, “I don’t know, Jack. I’ve seen too many crews come down from the Pacific Northwest who think they know how to handle their dink after competing in high tide and strong current. Then they encounter the surf of the southern California beaches and have to start learning their sport all over again.”

Jack nods sagely, “I see your point, Julie. The Dock and Drag really require different skills don’t they.”

Julie explains, “Yes, the Dock is about gauging distance and the relative speed of the many moving craft in the harbor while the Drag is a very physical event requiring great strength and a hard bottom. The Dash is all about timing and feeling your way through the waves. Let’s see how these newcomers do.”

Jack warns, “It doesn’t look good for Don Quixote. Look at that...”

“The captain is coming on too strong. He’s not waiting for the waves. See how he allows his helm to just power in?” Julie observes.

“Isn’t that crew a bit young for this event, Julie? They’ve got three juveniles.”

“No no,” she replies, eyes on the Don Quixote boat, “family crews are common in this sport. My sister and I started at 9 and 12. Oh look,” her voice shades to a bit of horror, “they’ve timed it all wrong. Jack, they’re going to... oh no...”

Jack exclaims, “They’re going over they’re going over!!!” He pauses as if unable to believe what he’s seeing, “Oh that’s tragic! Look there’s gear everywhere!”

Julie interjects, “It’s okay, Jack. Look at that crew scramble. They can stay in the competition if they can just recover well. Remember, we average their scores over several beaches throughout the next three months. They just need to recover their gear and get ashore unharmed.”

Jack calms, “Yes, Julie, and now we see a crew who’s been working together hard up north. Look at them scramble.”

“They’re doing well, Jack. They got that dinghy back over in less than 5 seconds. I see all five crew. See how they automatically divided responsibility. Captain, helm, and first mate have got that dinghy aligned and ashore. The younger crew are gathering Crocs, towels, and hats.”

“Let’s shift to Bob on the beach. Bob?”

Bob holds a microphone near the drenched Don Quixote crew who are gathering and checking gear, “Captain? Can you tell me what happened?” He thrusts the microphone in DrC’s face.

“We were just &#*ing stupid,” DrC looks grim. Salt water drips from his beard. “I didn’t wait and time the waves, and Jaime gunned it just a bit too late. We should never have gone over. Stupid.”

Bob switches to Toast, “And you? How’s it look?”

Toast looks around and her eyes narrow, “Good. We’re good. In gear we lost two pairs of sunglasses and a baseball hat. Not bad. We’re definitely going to use the dry bag and a lot more tie downs in the future. The kids are all right. No one is hurt. I’ll be able to rescue all the electronics except maybe the cell phone, and it’s insured.” Aeron jumps up into the view of the camera, bouncing to pop into the screen and mostly just the top of her head appearing as she blurts out, “That was AWESOME! I want to do it again! Let’s do it again and again and again!”

Julie’s voice off camera reminds Bob, “What about the equipment?”

Bob asks the captain, “DrC? Your boat?”

DrC nods slowly, “We’re okay. Lost an oarlock and the seat, but Toast wanted to replace those anyway. I think the motor’s okay.” 

Julie agrees and as the camera pans back to reveal Jaime, Mera and Aeron cavorting in the surf while DrC and Toast drape shirts, towels and hats over driftwood to dry, “While this was a hard introduction to the Dash for the Don Quixote crew, their experience has earned them a spot. They reacted quickly, gathered their gear, and they chose their hardware well. The engine is an old Yamaha two stroke. DrC can spend an hour cleaning it out, and it’ll start right back up. This isn’t so true of some newer, lighter more maneuverable hardware. What the crew sacrificed in speed, they made up in durability.”

Jack chuckles, “Well clearly they are going to need it. Don Quixote may be putting a lot more dents in that dink before we see them coming in smoothly.”

Julie laughs in agreement as Jack tells the camera, “Now let’s go to Steve who is monitoring the preliminaries for the Smooth Jybe @ 25 Knots.”


Anonymous said...

Thank you for making me laugh! I really enjoy your blog.

Jody said...


Is there really such a thing as a smooth jibe? Most of the time ours are accidental. ;*)

Cap'n Franko said...

Great reporting for a good laugh. Thanks! In my experience, I'd be more interested to hear your experience getting off that surge-y beach. I always have more trouble lauching against surf than I do landing with surf.

Anonymous said...

I am full of goofy love for you (as always) and wow, I can just SEE this happening. You always wrote so well.