By Jefferson Hall, married man
This article is about the ins and outs of sailing with your partner or spouse. Based upon my experience as well as some stories I have heard it is clear that racing as a couple is not for everyone. However, I also know that it can be a rewarding pursuit if you have the right chemistry and personalities. The key is all in setting expectations, respecting one another and communication which can also be applied to most any pairing.
Perhaps it is best to preface the article with some background information.
Early in our relationship it became clear to Tracy and her family that I have an addiction to sailing. Initially I think they believed that I was sailing on cold weekends and driving to places like Miami, Annapolis & Houston to avoid family dinners and quality time. If there was a race, practice or cruise I wanted to be there, rigging & tweaking the boat, out on the water, and analyzing it afterwards. In time they came to understand that it was in my blood and something that I needed to do.
I used to race on a five person team which was rewarding but became too much of a time commitment and logistical nightmare trying to make it mesh with family life. Enter the Albacore. I had been looking at the Albacore since I heard it was an active class in Toronto and ‘easily’ sailed by husband/wife teams. For a couple of years I considered entering the class and was searching high and low for a boat that I could afford.
One week before we were to be married I found one in Burke, Virginia. Since I am a guy and was not overly involved in the wedding logistics I wanted to retrieve the boat the weekend before our wedding as the seller was moving to Texas. The answer was NO. Fair enough, provided something could have gone wrong causing me to miss the nuptials or perhaps my input would be needed on some last minute plans.
Wedding bells, honeymoon and a road/shopping/Albacore retrieval trip later we were set to go for the following season. After one Harbour Master and Friday night we were hooked and excited to compete in the 2006 North Americans. The first day dawned with some impressive breeze which left nearly half of the fleet ashore. Tracy was a bit daunted but we launched and planed out to the race course barely able to breathe due to the spray and were tired but having a blast!
Rounding the committee boat we capsized but she managed to pull the board down as we went over so we righted quickly and struggled up the first beat.
By the top we figured out how to depower a bit and launched in pursuit of the fleet. Gybing inside of four or five boats in the graveyard we were excited until my knee gave out and we had to retire. The season was over, and two kids later, this husband wife duo had spent three sailing seasons apart.
But last year we were finally able to realize our initial goal of racing as a husband/wife team. As the season approached some people at my club told me I was crazy. — Read on:
TOGETHER TIME: Before I began dating my wife, she likes to remind me how she won the only Snipe race that we ever skippered against each other. She soon sailed with me while dating, which proved to be a good opportunity to get to know each other. And the night before we won the 1989 Snipe North Americans, I proposed. While sailing with my spouse would soon complicate child care issues, having the time together made it worth it. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor