Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome one and all to sport of kings, the race of all races, the crème de la crème of yacht racing; the cruising section. This is where we separate the men from the men, literally. Where dreams are made during eight hour off watches in silk pajamas, and milk is spilt out of bowls of fruit loops. No folks, this is not your ordinary test of man verses man, and man verses machine, this is a test of man verses an eight course meal whilst battling the elements of electric winches, dacron sailcloth, ornate teak veneered lazarettes , fluffy deck cushions, and angry nacho stealing seagulls. We may even see a sailing-glove face slapping, and most certainly tears will be shed. You will see overly grown men stuffed into quarters generally thought to be too small to facilitate a toilet and still be able read a newspaper and pinch a loaf with ease. You will witness the ‘set it and forget it’ genoa sail trim technique. You will appreciate the finer art of the ‘Crazy Ivan’ to starboard at the bottom of the hour, and the forever decorative helmsman snake path wake.
This will be the journey of epic propositions. A journey of epic time consumption. A journey that would break the will of a lesser fool. A seemingly expected journey that would drive a hobbit mad. Some will not survive this test. Some may not return. Some will learn from their mistakes and never, ever, return. Some may be blinded by self-importance and an overly inflated opinion of their perceived achievements, and pontificate their self-inflated worth to all those that will listen. While some will succumb to the inevitable reality of the race. Was it really a tragic accident while cleaning his Browning Over/Under? Did he really just fall asleep in a running automobile in the garage with all the windows down?
So there you have it folks, our cruising section all-stars, or as some will call it, the Friday Section 9 Sooners. They’re all winners, juice box drinkers on the podium of self-sacrifice. Their love for the sport of yacht racing cannot be diminished simply because they choose to start a day earlier and bring the comforts of a suburban home into the realm of competitive distance sailing. Some may see them as the paneled station wagons of the race course; I prefer to think of them as thee Equus africanus asinus of our endurance racing. You’re all winners….