OBR Final Report: What if there were no sunsets?
Let me tell you about three personalities who made my weekend, week and probably last month for that matter.
First one is called Bodensee, or Lake Constance. She is a very popular one. No one claims to know her completely, but many take pride in being with her for quite a long time. She is a complicated one, with many factors that influence her mood; including the Alps on one side, Rhein confluence on other, and many bays giving their microclimate on the third. Locals give her a character of the unknown, and she enjoys the ways she can act without anyone being surprised at her sudden mood shifts. These include the spectre from thunderstorms which have even been known to take lives, to calms which have been known to take nerves from even the serenest people. I didn’t know her very well, but after the two times we met, I still don’t know her any better.
The second one, Bernd, is one of two people who I shared the boat with on a night regatta around Bodensee. Bernd’s occurrence is the look of positiveness, with all the wisdom and the brightness. He is a real pleasure to be on board with, considering his patience, good spirit and understanding for even my annoying acting with the camera. This is seasoned with semi-sophisticated sarcastic humour, which is bound to make you laugh, even if you’re tired, even if you’re in the middle of no wind, even if you’re not in the mood for a laugh. He is a dentist usually when he is not making people laugh on boats. He lives near another lake in Germany, and sails there too, so he may have more understanding of a lake. But he also sailed in the Arctic, so I guess his understanding doesn’t stop at lakes.
The third one, Jorgj, is Bernd’s friend who joined us onboard of Bernd’s Seascape First 27, one of the seven 27s in this race. Jorgj is a real-life Popeye. He is tall and wide and strong. He has a serious face with a witty smile, and his tough looks are accompanied by his tough character. He was the sportiest one on the boat, with his incredible concentration, and strength, and strength and concentration of his will. But that might not be surprising as he is a sailmaker who worked for North Sails, who got into it because he sailed on a lake where local sailmaker needed to test sails. He sailed everything from Olympic class to maxis and was even a winner in some, so he must know his business.
Up to the point when Bernd, Jorgj, Bodensee and I met in Lindau Zech, three hours before the race, Bernd and I already had two days of incredible peace in Langenargen, a marina a bit further north. The place that makes buzzing in your fast-paced head go away with all the greenery around it, sounds of nature singing and kids running around in sailing clothes. We had the traditional Seascape meet-up, boat setting, briefings, friends coming together and grilling and beer drinking. Like always, the people here are what matters the most. You should never stop talking to people you think you know, and you should never stop meeting new people. I learn this over and over again, when participating in these events of ours.
In this state of mind, Bernd and I met Jorgj three hours before the start, and that marked the beginning of our regatta.
Starting line, the thing you will find after you avoid the woods Rhein brought from the Alps, is something you can come to even blindfolded. The noise of curiosity and tension that boat’s rigging along with water and crews make before the start is what can easily guide you to where you need to be. Our 27 is one of the 454 boats on the impressive sight of starting line, and we take place somewhere in the middle of the group, with two other 27s in view in front of us – Update FF and Alte Schwede.
Jorgj made the first part of regatta what it was for us. He trimmed, naked-handedly, of course, our gennaker, while frequently steering Bernd, up to the point where both of the two Seascapes were behind us. He is a competitive guy. A serious face and almost knife-sharp concentration is how we got to the first mark. Being competitive myself, passing the two boats made me feel the race attitude coming on. Sailing is a joy, but sailing regattas are tingling-feeling from the brain to body joy.
Our ranking changed quickly, due to the slow change of sails, and we got into the night behind the two boats we just passed. I looked for disappointment in my two German guys, but I couldn’t find it. The sun has fallen behind the clouds and into the sea, and night light came above us. The extraordinary atmosphere this brings to life onboard is hard to explain, but it should be prescribed by doctors’ orders to be lived in at least once a month.
Bernd made the second part of regatta what it was for us. During the night with no lights and no cellular signal, we had to stop concentrating on other boats and concentrate just on our own. Jorgj put his fierce focus on our boat solely, but Bernd’s lightness of spirit made night shorter and less tense. After all, we did expect the worst in the far north part Uberlingen, with all the warnings that Bodensee can turn into a windless test of nerves, with possible rainfall, too. With Bernd’s attitude, the small wind and little rain, we had seemed enough to get us through and around the mark.
Another nap after, I woke to the darkness of night giving up, and the daylight creeping through the clouds. Sun turned a small part of the sky pink, and inevitably gratefulness came over me. Morning on board was better than any morning on shore can be. Coffee, small snacks, and density of dawn radiance, while our 27 is making friends with Bodensee, and we are breathing the air of gentle breeze taking us closer and closer to the finish line. On mornings like this, I wish I could sail my life away.
Bodensee made the third part of regatta what it was for us. The morning came to the day, and romance came back to the race, and the lake’s friendliness came to an end. We parked in zero wind with the finish line in sight and stayed there where Bodensee stopped us for over two hours. I took the stories about the lake lightly, thinking that her mood shifts have been nice on us, and already saw us finishing in style. As she wasn’t easy on us, she wasn’t easy on anyone. With my zoom lens I found all of the Seascapes in the race, with Update FF being in obvious lead, but others like La Wally just on our side, or even behind us.
Our boat was positioned further from the coast than others, and after more than two hours of complete still, we could see the wind or rather the current pushing others to the finish line. With great patience, my team waited for our turn and bit later, but still too late, we got some small breeze ourselves, which enabled us to finish the race fourth, just in time to get across the finish line before JuLia.
On our way back to Langenargen, while Bernd and Jorgj have been drinking a celebration beer in an evidently great mood, I started thinking again after being out of my brain for the race. Last year, I thought the best part of the race must have been the spectacular sunset, and how lucky our media crew was to see that and then go home. Ha, what a shallow thought. Just like the famous quote, it’s not about the goal, but about the journey, this year I got to witness that Bodensee was surely not about the sunset, but about an amazingly unpredictable lake, spectacular number of boats, and the crew next to you which is competing against others while curiously awaiting what the lake will do. And it got me thinking, with all that, sunset may be a nice thing to show to your friends to tell them where you’ve been, but that is only because they are missing the whole story. So what if there were no sunsets.