Last night was a very weird sail.
We set out, 10 boats, in reasonable wind. Slowly through the first half of the race, the wind diminished.
As we set into the fourth and final leg, the wind finally gave up and died. For around 15-20 minutes we bobbed, unable to move. There were five of us that still hadn’t finished, and we were all bobbing helplessly about 100m from the finish line. We were sitting frustrated, dreaming of the cold beer and barbecued hamburgers that waited for our return.
Suddenly a plane flew overhead, coming in to land at Billy Bishop Airport. Through our entirely-by-luck position near the back/port of the 5 sailboats, we felt the gust of the airplane’s backwash. And nobody else did, since our sails were in the way of theirs.
Slowly, our boat started moving forward. The shocked look on the crews face froze in place, as we were afraid to move or speak in case we countered the motion. Slowly, ever so slowly, we passed the other racers, enjoying the frustrated looks on their faces. The momentum of the one lucky gust slowly pushed us all the way to the finish line!
Aside from the joy of beating the other teams, the really impressive aspect for me was how a simple little gust of wind, barely enough to feel, had pushed a 4000lb sailboat. We went from a dead stop to a slow magical coast as if by magic.
And THAT’s why I’m so hooked on this sport.
[edit:] Reading this, and remembering how we felt, I can really understand why sailors were such a religious and superstitious bunch. It did feel like someone/something had just put a giant hand behind our transom and nudged us along.