Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Sailing Bye

Island Lark preparing for raising sails on the Miles River, Saturday, July 25, 2009. Photo by Nick Roper

It’s been over a month since the last post here on Runners On Trails, and a lot has happened since: Seabiscuit hit the water, 4 log canoe regattas have been sailed, 360 miles have been ridden, swimming has had a break, and running three days a week has become the norm. The people involved in these activities are my friends; both new and old.

It seems all the “Bieb” and I talked about during this past year was the return to the fun we had last summer in riding our bikes to the St. Michaels Pool on summer mornings for a swim. We did this a few times early on in June. We were met by the same folks there that also awaited our return; the lady-swim-walkers, the teenage lifeguard girls, and the other lap swimmers. Bieb decided to take a break from training to recover from the huge effort he put in to running Eagleman in mid June. After talking to another doctor about my shoulder, I decided to give it some rest, too, and put a hold on swimming for a while. I see the shoulder doctor tomorrow morning, and I hope to return to swimming soon. I miss it.

I was determined to get the star-boat, Seabiscuit, to the club by the Fourth of July. It had not seen the water in 21 months. We actually sailed Seabiscuit on the 3rd to the annual raspberry picking site. My daughters, Cole, and I sailed in 15 knots of air on a glorious afternoon and returned with over a gallon of ripe red raspberries. We ate them with cake while watching the St. Michaels fireworks. How good is that?
Seabiscuit in her first lead of the season with Taylor by the mast. Photo by Andrew Parish

I’ve since raced Seabiscuit in two Wednesday night races, taking a 5th and a 2nd. In our first race, Taylor Penwell and I nailed the first lap of two, leading the fleet easily. However, my rusty sailing-principle memory tripped me up and we lost the lead and got swallowed by the fleet. The second race with crew Bill Cox moved us in a better position by starting out mediocre and improving our position through out the course. Too bad we didn’t have another leg.
Corey, Lark's mainsheet tender and daughter of the skipper having a ceremonial drink of champagne from the 1925 Govenor's Cup. Photo by Nick Roper

But the real sailing excitement has come with the log canoes. Like a well oiled machine, the Lark crew assembled the rig and hit the first weekend with a bang, winning the first race by a mile. We’ve now sailed 12 races at three different venues tallying 5 firsts, 6 seconds, and a capsize. Our capsize in the Chester River was violent in heavy air. The recovery was tough, too, in the rough conditions. It took several bailing attempts to get her back. We also “turtled” Lark for the first time in 24 years. Other racers who saw us said Larks’ centerboard looked like a giant shark fin (7 feet tall) sticking up in the air. We’ve won some important races including from this past weekend: The Sidney Covington Trophy, the Oliver Duke Memorial Trophy, and the Governor’s Cup.
Victor's son, Terry, one of our best boardmen on Lark, tips the Governor's Cup so Wood Frog can have a sip. Photo by Bowie Rose

It is hard not to recognize the fortunate situation we have on Lark with the crew. The bulk of our crew has been together for 15 years. The core of the crew has been together for 30. The newest crew members have grown up with the Lark, for they are our children. We sailed with six Lark offspring this past weekend. The regular crew helps to keep Lark competitive.
Victor in all his spendor, about to hug a crew member from Oliver's Gift. Pink "Brougham" in the background complete with palm tree. Photo by Nick Roper

Lark’s success reaches beyond who sails during the races. Our chase-boat crew is awesome. Victor, Tad and Ebby’s brother, uses his boat as Lark’s tender, towing us to and from the races and picking up the pieces (literally) when we crash and burn like we did on the Chester. Victor is, well,…interesting. He’s one hell of a nice guy, but a little difficult to label (see photo). Brougham, Victor’s boat, has evolved over the years. First there was a couch on the roof, then a living room, phone, exercise machine, palm tree, and the latest is a pink paint job. The chase-boat crew, especially, Judi, help in many ways from insuring we know the correct course to feeding us with brownies.
Island Lark skipper, Tad duPont, behind some of the prizes won over the weekend. Photo by Bowie Rose

This past month I have had privilege to bike with some new friends. Roy and I had an awesome 40 mile ride on the Fourth of July, hitting some new terrain for both of us in and around the Leeds Creek area. Roy is an awesome guy, a quick triathlete, and has a beautiful family. Later the same day we took his son, Sam, on Seabiscuit for a fast sail up the Miles River. The ego lap in St. Michaels harbor was cool too, especially, the tack in front of the Crab Claw. Roy gets to ride in Central Park during the week, and recently busted some ribs in a wreck there when a lady stepped into his path. Heal well, Roy!

Tim is an artist and was visiting locally for the recent Plein Air Competition. I borrowed a bike from Dominic for Tim to use (thanks, Dom!!). Last Friday afternoon we went for a ride to Tilghman. This was an introductory road-bike ride for Tim. He is recovering from knee surgery after a lacrosse injury last year. This guy is so pumped to be a triathlete. He’s already an athlete; lacrosse and mountain biking. He’ll make the transition into triathlete easily. Tim took first place in 3 categories at this year’s Plein Air, and sold all of his paintings for the week. Congratulations, Tim!! I look forward to our next ride.
Tim Bell's "End of the Day" painting from 2008. Photo from McBride Gallery

Though I am still contemplating knee surgery this September, I am managing 3 runs a week, two of which are with Katherine. She is training for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon in November, and I guess, I am too since two of my runs each week are with her. It is amazing to see Katherine’s speed increase. In our most recent run on Tuesday (see RUR blog) we ran with Mike, Shaun, and Andrew until we met up with Joel in San Domingo Creek. During Katherine’s fast intervals, I had a hard time keeping up with her. She was once a 5 minute miler. Hmm…

Rise Up Runners Andrew, Michael, Kat, Shaun, and Wood Frog on the St. Michaels San Domingo Wharf this past Tuesday morning. Photo by self timed MjK

There is so much to look forward to: New Hampshire and the White Mountains, The Samoset 10K in Bristol, Maine, lots of biking, an occasional Wednesday night race on Seabiscuit, and 3 more weekends of log canoeing with my buddies on the Lark. I am deeply appreciative of the many people in my life that make all these adventures meaningful and fun.

Friday I turn 45 and will be spending the weekend on the vintage racing yacht, Windalier, with my daughter Eleanora, our good friend Cole, our new friends the Bench’s (their boat), and Windalier’s crew as we race Friday night and into Saturday seventy miles down the Bay to St. Mary’s City in the Governor’s Cup Race. It has been 10 years since I last raced this race aboard my brother-in-law’s boat, Restless. I am happy to have this opportunity to share this adventure with Eleanora. St. Mary’s holds many great memories for me with the Restless and Nicole crews over the years. It’s historical significance, geography, and festive atmosphere strikes at every heart that sails ashore.

Sail, swim, ride, run, and appreciate ~