Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Most of the time I want to get the hell out of Dodge, especially after sailing events, but this time no, and when as usual I checked the time of my departing flight, I was suddenly disappointed that I'd booked one that was so immediate. I guess this is the effect that the Gorge has, a place I would go to even if I didn't sail.
I came second, Bora won. He was very fast and has definitely made a step change from his worlds performance. I am in debt to Tom Driscoll for lending me his Prowler, it takes a while to get boats up to speed and one day just wasn't enough, and my lack of prep showed, as did my lack of err..watch. But together though we pushed the boundaries... Little did Tom know, but visitor and Buddhaesque like Jeff (shape, not anything spiritual) set us off developing in a desperate bid to look busy... and with the direct approval of Jim from Alinghi and the Walmart supply chain behind us we really did make Americans lives better. Brits too..The centre of Moth development is shifting to Dago now folks.
But Moths are a wily temptress and already I'm looking forward to the Worlds, and below is my guide to an event that you really should do.
American Airlines can get you there for a shade over 700 quid from Europe. You might get it cheaper if you book earlier and I changed at Dallas. You meet people on flights, I sat next to a Texan woman who'd been on a trip to Europe to meditate. You can tell she'd been quiet for a long time because she wouldn't stop yapping. She had a self help book and gave 10% of her salary to the church. She told me not to pre judge people which is fair enough, but she soon loosened up and after a couple of G&T's we were discussing the perfect female figure.
The Dallas Portland leg had me sat next to a girl called Tracy who I suspected was highly opinionated and this turned out to be true. Anyway total flight time 13 hours.
You get from Portland to Cascade Locks in 45 minutes. Ex Hawaii five 0 sailor Ian Andrewes picked me up. Great guy and new friend.
On "Off the water"
At first glance Cascade Locks is small, but I soon learnt that this wasn't bad, and actually this was one Amercian town that was not particularly silicon enhanced. Its safe too, you can leave your wallet on the beach and go sailing, it'll be there when you get back. No one locks their cars, but this is probably because you have to be over 7ft tall to nick 'em.
People running the stores are nice, the food is great. I put on two kilos in one week. There are two petrol stations, two places to eat breakfast. Some nice beer in the bar/pizza place, a general store that sells everything and a couple of motels. Truck drivers just.. well wave to you as they go by in a "hey fella" kind of way, which, if they did that in Europe, would have me running like hell, listening for the sound of the air brakes.
Up the road you have the bigger town of Hood River and over the Columbia river Stevenson, presumably named after someones first name.. The scenery is fantastic and humbling, even the best sailor is only the tallest pygmy, against the magnificent wilderness of the area.
On the Water
The water is warm. The wind generally strong yet sometimes light. Importantly the windward mark will be just off the beach in a so close kind of way that you'll be able to tell which way he (or she?) has dressed that morning. Anyway you get my drift.
Talking of which, there's current. Beats don't take long, sheet in, whistle three bars of "Oregon my Oregon" and your on the lay line.
On the shore
The launch area isn't big but it is either grass, sand or shale, so its kinder to boats than say Weymouth, which was like launching on a belt sander. Its suited to moths and when a bit of weed sometimes gets hooked on the boat, it's easy to clear and is the type of stuff you see in a fish tank, not the Sargasso sea. At the Worlds the car park will be the boat park so there will be room.
For refreshments there is a Cascade Locks visitors centre 100 meters away where basic stuff is sold by a lovely old lady with an ever present cup of coffee. She ain't that fast though and with up to 100 sailors at the worlds there might be a bottle neck here...I'd solve this by simply and unknowingly moving her over to decaff and, with a day to go to the worlds, switch her to double expresso. You can get more out of old people that way.
There is camping in the park but a train track is close by, I didn't camp but if you do you can cure the jetlagg by counting the wagons as they go buy. My record was 120.
When we came a shore there was free beer and always free water throughout the day. We had high temperatures. 100 degrees in a wetsuit is hot, and despite drinking like a camel, when you do pee, all you get is a drip and a puff of steam. Normally its in the 80's though.
You could not hope to meet a better set of guys, and if you know your stuff, you will have heard of most of them from great success in other areas of the sailing arena. Anyway the class is growing fast and the US is surely the biggest market. The west coast guys are taking on the responsibility of organising the Worlds seriously, people have roles, everyone is helping out. I'm sure the will deliver a great event and I for one will be there.
Thanks again to everyone who made my short stay so nice. It feels natural to sail Moths on the Gorge and forget those war stories you may have been told. The windsurfing with the really strong breeze is in another place. and when the Oregon state insect is a butterfly, there can't be a better fit can there?