Port Tack Start

Submitted by Timothy Mansfield from Cambridge, MA

I have been racing our H12 “Cricket” ever since I can remember.  The Buzzards Yacht Club has a terrific fleet of H12s and early on in my racing career, they would hold Thursday morning races for skippers under the age of 16.  Often I would have Henry Ware as my crew.  Now Mr. Ware was highly regarded in Hospital Cove, our home port in Cataumet, MA.  He was a remarkably accomplished sailor, a quiet but strong presence and a wonderful mentor with whom I loved to sail and race.  I have many stories of my time sailing Cricket with Mr. Ware but this photo captures one of the best.  It was a typical Buzzards Bay day with the wind steady from the southwest.  We were racing in a fleet of about 9 H12s and in preparing for the start, Mr. Ware noticed a slight wind shift and in his soft, but firm deep baritone suggested we try a Port start.  Now, as you may know, racers typically start on Starboard as you maintain the right of way and control of your position.   A port start is consider quite risky as you can find yourself fouling others if you are not careful. However, if the wind is just right and you time it perfectly, a port start can find you at the head of the fleet with a distinct advantage on the first windward leg.  This photograph, taken right at the starting line, shows us in the foreground attempting a Port start!  Mr. Ware can be seen at the mast studying the wind ahead, I can be seen at the tiller bent over staring under the boom at the entire fleet bearing down on us – on Starboard!  Needless to say I was petrified, calculating if we had enough speed to clear the fleet, Mr. Ware however was calm as a cucumber and uttered quietly to me “sail the boat, Timothy…”.  I did, we cleared the fleet and were off to the races!

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