|Photo courtesy of Mindy Oppenheim
By Mindy Oppenheim
I couldnâ€™t wait to see the AC races from my boat. All the hullaballoo got to me, including talk of redevelopment, jobs, opportunities, money to be made... not to mention, the big, beautiful and expensive catamarans racing on the bay.
On the first day of the race, we left the dock in Sausalito with chicken salad sandwiches and cameras. On the way out of the marina, we passed the sea lions packed on top of each other lying on rafts. Some were â€śporpoisingâ€ť in front of the boat, watching us motor by. The cormorants were drying their outstretched wings on the top of pilings. A flock of pelicans glided by us, just inches above the water.
We motored south on Richardson Bay, passing the live-a-board boat communities, with many boats in various stages of funky disrepair. I fantasized about living on the bay completely off the grid, until a 130-foot luxury yacht hailing from Wyoming distracted me by cutting us off.
It was pretty crowded that day. Everyone with a boat seemed to head over to the AC race. We had to jockey for position to heave the main sail into the wind. With the main sail set, we pointed SW and unfurled the jib. A few minutes later, we sailed on a close-haul in front of the Golden Gate Bridge! The sails caught a gust of wind and like a wave, we surfed the gust practically standing up sideways as the boat heeled over at a 45-degree angle. We rode the wave to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, screaming in delight!!
Iâ€™ve been learning to sail for 30 years. Iâ€™m forever learning how to read the water, the air, the boat and the weather. Sailing has taught me patience, attention to detail, thinking ahead, and how to weather the storms. Iâ€™ve learned the importance of teamwork, and how to communicate clearly without yelling. Iâ€™ve gained confidence and competence, but Iâ€™m always just a little bit nervous, knowing Mother Nature is in complete control. When Iâ€™m sailing, even on a cold and foggy day, Iâ€™m in my happy place with a big smile on my face.
When we were in the line of boats motoring slowly towards the Gate watching the race it was really fun, as we all moved in unison. We had a great view of the AC boats, the city, Alcatraz and the Gate. After we took a bunch of great photos we exited the fray. With our sails back up, the motor off and the wind at our backs, we took the long way home, behind Angel Island and through Raccoon Straights. The sun was out and three harbor porpoises were following us. We reached the dock at Sunset. It was another glorious day on the bay!
I repeated this agenda for three of the four AC race days and I conclude that the Americaâ€™s Cup is pretty cool, but the journey is sooo much cooler.
Captain Mindy Oppenheim, M.Ed. is a US Coast Guard Master Captain and American Sailing Association Certified Instructor. She can be reached at Sea of Change Sailing Adventures, SETRaining@yahoo.com, for sailing lessons, corporate team building events, sunset sails and worldwide charter vacations. As Mindy says, â€śYou deserve a glorious day on the bay.â€ť