There is nothing quite like going on a sail that allows you to not only watch the sunset, but also watch it rise.
As a child I grew up sailing on the boat, weekend trips, family vacations and even the occasional fun race. It wasn't until 5 years ago that I was introduced to a whole other side of sailing - double handed racing with my dad - Dave Courtney. When the idea first came up to do the LOSHR series, I was quite excited, but I will admit, the thought of doing the 100-miler was what got me a little anxious. I had been out on the boat for days at a time, but never overnight, and never "solo" at times when dad needed to sleep! I knew that all the knowledge I had gathered over the years would surely bring me through most situations that may arise, but never considered how much I stood to gain by getting pushed out of my comfort zone.
Dad has a wonderful way of doing things that most people would look at and say "wow, that is so adventurous "or "you're crazy to do that by yourself" and making it look completely normal. I have always admired that, and so with a brave face, off we went on the 100-miler.
We have gathered some good stories on our races, but this year was by far my favourite. What started out as a pretty choppy day, with favourable winds, quickly turned to no winds, listening to the sails snap and swing, bobbing with no sign of even a puff of air. It is in those moments that your patience, perseverance and even sanity truly get tested. I had hit the point where I thought I was going to go mad! Looking at dad, I knew there was not a chance he would start that engine, and so I quickly made the decision to switch my mind set and jumped up on the bow and started fanning the sails.... only joking. But really, I started to take in all the small things that can be done to make the tiniest difference in situations like that.
Every so often there would be a puff of air, and we would jump into action to get every bit of speed we could. And then finally, off in the distance, you could see that ripple on the water that you pray is what you think it is but dare not say - WIND.
After what seemed like the longest 11 hours of my life, we rounded the Niagara mark and were on the final stretch home, with wind! Dad went down to sleep just before sunrise, to get some much-needed rest, and I took over. As the sun came up, I remember thinking, I wish everyone in my life could know what this feeling is like, because simply, there is nothing like it. The moment I had feared before, quickly became one of my favourites. The winds continued to shift slightly, and I made quick work of trimming the sails. Watching each time as our speed rose, I felt grateful for all that my dad had taught me over the years to be able to enjoy this moment on my own, rather than fear it! I am so thankful for the 100-miler, and all the ups and downs it can bring.
Here's to next year, and bringing in 1st overall again, right dad?!