So our club had regatta this weekend -- three short races Saturday and a long distance race Sunday. Saturday was probably my best day sailing in the 2+ years I've had my DSII. We had sustained winds of 10-15 mph and I was able to single hand comfortably... thanks largely to my recent installation of fairleads for my centerboard jib cleats! They're nothing fancy, but my goodness what a difference they made in my ability to tack and manage my jib. I moved the jib cleats from the seatbacks to the cb last season (i.e., installed Ronstan RF 5010's)... which was a great improvement... but I added the fairleads (Ronstan RF5015's), just prior to the race... and the difference they made was an epiphany of sorts. Up till this weekend, each tack was very much an adventure... I'd release the old sheet and then have to locate and more often than not have to reach all the way over to the block on the far seat back to find the end of the new sheet... a move that typically wasted valuable time and more often then not, killed my momentum. On Saturday I was able to pop off (i.e., uncleat) the old sheet and the new sheet was right there in the fairlead... all I'd have to do was pull the new sheet thru and set it. Thanks to my new fairlead inspired tacking technique I was able to keep my speed up and place much better than usual (i.e., I wasn't last!) in all three races.
So naturally I was pumped to participate in the Sunday race. The winds were up slightly... 15 mph sustained with gusts of 20+. But I knew I could handle, no... tame those gusts! Anyway, with a minute before the race start I was circling back behind the line on a run when the wind gusted, the boom came across on an accidental jibe, and the boat shifted hard while I was gripping the tiller with my right hand. Unfortunately my weight was forced down and to the right and the next thing I know I heard a loud "crack"... and realized that while I was still holding the tiller, it was no longer attached to the rudder head. After expressing my angst to all nearby as well as those above... I found I was able to head back into the wind by grabbing the rudder blade with my hands. I was able to control my direction and get back to our harbor... which fortunately was nearby... and other than having my pride, enthusiasm, and generally psyche completely smashed... I was fine. When I got the boat the tiller had a minor crack in it by the tines but it had brass reinforcements, so wasn't a problem for side to side pressure... but sudden downward pressure is a different and unanticipated force I guess... and an important lesson learned. I ordered a new tiller from D&R Sunday night... and will get back out there to sail and race again as soon as I can.
So just a typical weekend of the highs and lows of sailing... and perhaps life too! I hope my lessons... both the good one (add fairleads) and the bad one (don't "white knuckle" the tiller) help someone out there.