SMOKE BREAK

Cruising World - - Underway - Bobby Swayze, Via email

Read­ing Herb Mccormick’s com­ments on “Knapp’s Time” (Off Watch, May 2018) brought back mem­o­ries of rac­ing with my fa­ther on his knarr Cutty Sark. Dad was one of the finest light-air sailors on Lake Pontchar­train and won the fleet tro­phy two years rac­ing in the eight-boat fleet. He com­pletely re­built his first knarr and won six out of seven races. The joke at the South­ern Yacht Club bar was that it was the boat, not the skip­per. So he sold the boat, bought an­other knarr, re­built it and won seven out of seven races the sec­ond year. To me as a 10-year-old son, it was hard to be­lieve what he went through to change the con­ver­sa­tion at the bar af­ter the race.

Dad worked us hard on Cutty Sark. I rarely got sun­burned rac­ing, be­cause I spent most of my time down be­low bail­ing. The knarr was a very fast boat, sim­i­lar to a dragon, but they leaked like the levees in New Or­leans. Dad of­ten said that any­one could sail in heavy air; the top sailors were the ones who could sail in light air. The only time we got a break was when there was ab­so­lutely no wind. You knew when it was break time be­cause Dad would light up a cig­a­rette. As long as the smoke rose straight up, you were free to do as you chose, but as soon as it flick­ered in any di­rec­tion, you had work to do, be­cause there was wind on the race course.

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