Casey Crowley is a Junior Instructor and Junior Big Boat Sailor from Black Rock Yacht Club. Even before she started sailing Optis, Casey grew up sailing on her dad's boat and has ever since been particularly drawn to big boat sailing. This fall, Casey will return to Ward High School in Fairfield as a junior, and plans to join the sailing team there in the spring.
Casey was at the Beach Point Overnight Race in August and thoroughly enjoyed her experience there! Afterwards, she wrote this piece about her experience as a Junior Big Boat Sailor this summer. Enjoy!
While the majority of my friends spent their summer poolside, tanning the day away, mine was spent on boats. Junior sailing instructor by day, Junior Big Boat Sailing (“JBBS”) skipper by night (sounds exciting, I know), I had a thrilling summer on the water. Weekly practices for Big Boats were held right outside our home port, Black Rock Harbor, where our team would participate in races against other (adult) boats from nearby on Wednesday nights. These races were in preparation for the Black Rock, Dorade and Beach Point Overnight JBBS regattas, which were all held in the past few weeks. The Black Rock and Dorade were fun day races of course, however nothing extraordinary since they were just longer versions of what our team did on a regular basis. The Beach Point Overnight, however, was a completely different story.
The Black Rock JBBS team of ten juniors, hosted on Chris Gill’s “Tenacious,” took to the Sound on Tuesday, August 14th in hope for an exciting and successful race. For me and the majority of the crew, this was our 3rd year in the program, and none of the current members had ever taken home a medal, nor had anyone from Black Rock at all in several years. We were all tired from the previous day’s Dorade race, but were still looking forward to the night to come. We set sail around 3pm, and with me at the helm, we raced off to the first mark which was no more than two miles away. Our start itself was a little shaky since we were almost early, and the start itself was at an odd heading. However, we caught up with several boats upwind, rounded the mark, and set our spinnaker for the many hours to come. We chose to keep to the middle of Sound and head straight for the next buoy. For a change of pace around the second mark, we doused our spinnaker and headed upwind to Stratford Shoal lighthouse for a little bit. Finally, we set the chute one more time and headed for the finish. But it’s never that easy is it? With a generally clear sky we thought that, maybe, we had lucked out and got the good 50% of the forecast… “No no, that’s heat lightning…” “I don’t think we’re going to get hit…” “Maybe we’ll luck out…” “Oh… look… the lightning’s hitting ground now…” And just like that, it’s pouring. Now trust me when I say the weather would not make up its mind: it’s pouring and blowing 25 knots, then it’s pouring and blowing 0 knots, and then all of a sudden it’s not pouring at all. Well played, New England. At this point we really have no idea what place we’re in, but we think we’re doing decently. Then finally, at about 2:30am (earlier than we’ve ever spotted it before), the finish line is in sight and the realization comes—only 4 other boats have reported that they’re nearing the finish, and only 2 in our division. We were in line to do really well if we didn’t screw up in the next hour. With more focus, determination, and not to mention the excitement that I’ve sailed with all year, I headed straight for the pin doing my best to never take my eyes off of it. We finished at 3:18am on August 15th and took home 3rd place for the regatta.
Participating in the Beach Point Overnight for the past few years has been a terrific experience. It has opened a door to hundreds of opportunities in long distance sailing. It’s also made me realize how different long distance racing is from buoy racing. For example, the day before the Beach Point Race, at the Dorade, a shackle broke, skying our spin halyard. Luckily, a wind shift set us on a reach so we didn’t get killed for not having a chute, but we still had to send someone up the mast in between races. However if this had happened during a distance race, every second spent fixing the problem would have been time taken from racing, while in short races the time can be made up by a better “next race.”
We welcome Casey as a contributing writer. Do you have something to say and want to get it out to fellow junior sailors? Contact us anytime throughout the year at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook, and we'll be happy to get you published here on JibeTalk!!