“What is the first event of the Regatta Season?” Every new Makai crewmembers asks this and my answer, as Boatswain, is always, “Richmond Practice Regatta.” For the past three years, Makai has cruised from San Leandro to Richmond for the event that puts us into full regatta training mode.
On Saturday morning, we rose at 0700 and got chow on the table. By 0830, it was time for formation and colors. Then, the training began. The first event we ran was flotilla; we had a new cox’n and half a crew that had almost no experience pulling an oar. We reported in and the judge got us started. After some theory training at the dock, we had our bowmen cast us off. The judge helped our cox’n learn to handle the boat, and taught our crew some tricks to help us get more points per maneuver. After some serious time in the pulling boat, each crewmember was more confident in their ability to pull and perform each maneuver required.
The next event was Scuttlebutt. Some of our crew had one position for which they are perfect, and some had never run the event. For the first three runs we took it slow, to teach the new guys how to run spars or to let the barrel team get themselves sorted out. After three walkthroughs, everyone was comfortable in their positions and we started running full speed. Our first run started smoothly, but our barrel slipped. We reset, while one of the judges helped our barrel team learn from their mistakes. Our second run went smoothly and we got a qualifying time thanks to the judges tips. After this, we decided to train each individual part separately to allow each person to get specific help.
After Scuttlebutt, it was time for lunch. We went down to the boat where food was waiting, and we ate quickly, eager to get back to training. Since both sailing and motor boating are at the same spot we split up the crew. Two crewmembers went sailing while the rest went on the motor boat or trained on ship events dockside. I was one of the two sailing so we waterproofed ourselves and got into the boat. After some difficulty squeezing between the other docked boats and the concrete wall, we finally entered the channel and caught some amazing wind. We took turns on the tiller and mainsheet, as the sailboat was cat rigged. We caught enough wind to need the hiking straps, and by the time we were done, we were soaked up to the knees. So we went back to our ship to change, while the rest of the crew finished training in the motor boat.
Finally, we wrapped up the training and headed over to the Red Oak Victory, where we were given an amazing tour of the bridge, engine room, and everything in between. After the tours, we sat down to eat pizza and cake in one of the cargo bays, followed by a movie in the next cargo bay forward. Every year this event kicks off the regatta season with a bang and this year was no different. So get ready for Nor Cal regatta season 2012, and an amazing year to follow.
Isaac James – Boatswain S.S.S. Makai