Saturday, August 18, 2012
Since we sail every weekend year-round, we always have at least 4 race days during Ramadan, the Moslem holy month when Moslems fast during the daylight hours. Our club is mostly ex-pats and we have only one sailor who fasts (he very generously does PRO duty for all 4 weeks even though in August it is 45ºC and more).
Out of respect for fasting Moslems, all restaurants (except a very few in hotels) open only at sundown and in our club food and beverages can only be served before sunset in restricted areas that are curtained off from general view and no alcohol is served before sunset.
Which means that our usual practice of lying to each other about our performance in the afternoon's races over a cold beer has to wait until sunset. On the other hand, most businesses are on reduced working hours - my working hours are 9 to 2 - and we often get together during the week for a sail.
Ramadan is an interesting time - the pace of daily life slows down and the month can be hard on the fasting Moslems who lose sleep by having several meals at night and enduring the hot summer months without any liquids during the day. Ironically, it is not unusual to put on weight during the month of fasting because the meals at night can be quite elaborate and it is customary to invite friends and family often. The religious aspect is very personal, of course, but the shopping malls treat it in the same way they treat Christmas in the West - superficial reference to the real meaning and a big push on materialistic gift-giving.
Yesterday was our last Ramadan race for this year and I helmed a Kestrel with a novice sailor as crew - needless to say our maneuvers were less than crisp. And I capsized twice - once because I was not paying sufficient attention during a gybe. I reported in a post of a few weeks ago about my mistakes in a bad gybe in a Kestrel and I would have thought I had learned something from that experience, but today I was distracted by giving instructions to the crew and trying to keep the boat level as he crossed over too quickly (see, you can always find some way to blame the crew) and the boom actually caught me on the head which didn't help my concentration.
The other time the tiller extension got jammed against the transom. I had flipped the extension back before tacking and it flopped down into the corner of the transom, effectively locking into place. So, I was just doing a routine tack and suddenly as I tried to straighten out the boat, the rudder wouldn't move - so the boat continued merrily rounding, tipping further over until the inevitable.
Then to add insult to injury on the final leg I somehow entirely forgot about the reaching mark and went straight for the downwind mark and finish. At least my competing Kestrel helm had the bad sense to follow me - 2 DNFs.
The second race started ingloriously with the above-described gybing capsize about 1.30 before the start which meant that by the time I started the other Kestrel was halfway to the windward mark - ouch! A very tiny bit of satisfaction in catching up slightly on the second beat since I used the outgoing tide to help me - but far too little too late.