Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Wednesday Evening Race and the Degnan Trophy

The VHF broke, the traveller car got stuck and damaged, we missed hitting the windward mark in a flood tide by inches (Brock is my witness), on the first downwind leg I broke and lost the tiller extension, and on the final upwind leg the jib halyard broke... but we managed to make shift a tiller extention with a piece of rope and my crew Patrick saved our first place finish by grabbing the wire with his bare hands and held it down long enough for us to win the race and in so doing we also won the Degnan trophy... something my dad is going to be very proud of tomorow when I show up with the trophy. The trophy is awarded to the boat from all three fleets (IOD, Knarr, Folkboat) for the most/best finishes in relation to how many boats compete that race. It's a complicated scoring system that has been tweeked and revised every few years to account for the number of participating boats due in sone cases to a declining fleet and in other cases a resurgence.
It's a fair system and for years I've watched with envy the winners as they give their speaches in honor of Dr. George Degnan for whom the trophy is named. The doctor was a man who loved life. He enjoyed it to the fullest and was good sailor who would tell the most outragous stories parelleling sailing in strong winds and heavy seas with sex. The overt references to the pulsing, thrusting, gyrating movement of the boat made me, a boy of 10 years old the first time I heard him speak, know that he wasn't just talking about the race. He would ramble on and on and appear lost and confused as he fumble to remember what he wanted to say. And just when you thought he had completely lost it and you started to feel sorry for the older gentlemen seemingly hung out to dry embarassed in front of everyone.... He'd tie it all together with a punchline that killed. The room would errupt into laughter and the energy he created with his wit and storytelling would expand
out of the confines of the Golden Gate yacht club. He'd often open the bar with a ring of the bell and the party was on for the rest of the night. I am humbled, honored and forever changed now that my name has been added to the list of accomplished sailors on the trophy before me. Can't wait to show my dad who knew, respected and introduced me to the man all those years ago.


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