Last Sunday, with sunny skies and wind building from the west, I hopped on Bill Records’s  boat and started the second race of the Spring series at the Austin Yacht Club.  I’m here with three other people crewing on Bill’s Pearson 26, Cafe au Lait.  Emy is a college student, Charlie’s in real estate and Karen, like me, works in high tech.

Bill’s been around the club since the late 70s so he knows these waters and how to win a yacht race.  My nickname for Bill is “The Mayor” — he knows everyone and he’s so outgoing, quick with a smile and a joke.  I met Bill three years ago when he was “Coach Bill” for Anna’s sailing summer camp, before we joined the club.

“Austin Yacht Club” sounds funny to me.  “Yacht Club” makes me think stuffy old rich guys in a blue blazers and tassel loafers.  AYC is nothing like that.  No stuffiness here.  Too many kids, flip flops and chips n queso for stuffy.

The Club’s been here since 1951 and occupies a gorgeous stretch of land on Beacon Cove, about 25 minutes from downtown Austin.  I like the way another member put it, “when you come through the front gate, it’s like you’re on vacation.”  The grounds are

Yacht Club dock.  (photo credit:  Steve Ward)

filled with oak trees and the water is, of course, lovely.

My wife is a smart woman.  She’s nudged me to join the club a few times over the past many years.  She was so right.  I’m glad I finally joined late last year.

It’s a great place for me (for our whole family, really).  There are so many interesting, fun and generous people at the Club.

Kate and Coleman do a fantastic job running the Junior sailing program which is growing and filling the calendar with kids events.

Early this year I went to a meeting of the sail training committee.  I was amazed at the experience of the people in the room.  Carolyn was on a winning Mallory Cup team.  Linda McDavitt, a member, is half way through the Clipper Round the World race (in QINGDAO, China at the moment).  Another member said he’s been sailing for sixty years.  Harry is a US Coast Guard Captain and used to run a sailing school in Dallas.  Susan and Brad raced for decades and used to run a boat dealership in Dallas before moving down to Austin.

The crew hard at work (photo credit:  Steve Ward)

Right before our race started Bill called for a sail change to a smaller jib.  Good thing because the wind kept building and the bigger jib would have been way too much.  On our last downwind leg a big gust — high 20s, I’m guessing — caused us to broach and round up (translation, tip over and soak the people, sails and cockpit)!

In the end we got the boat back on its feet, pulled down and stowed the too big spinnaker sail and got back into the race.  We managed to stay in front and win our class (our second in a row).

I had great fun sailing with Bill, Emy, Charlie and Karen.  I can’t wait to get out there again.

The winning crew on Sunday:  (l-r) Karen, Bill, Emy, Charlie and me.  (photo credit:  Steven)