What is it like to win an Albacore Nationals

By Barney Harris 6701 & 8011

Five top Albacore racers and close friends from the UK elected to travel to the United States to compete in the US Nationals in borrowed boats. This was a first for a US Nationals not held in conjunction with a Worlds. I fed them all beers the Thursday evening of their arrival and a hearty breakfast at a local diner the following morning. It was great to return the favour after being shown tremendous hospitality in the UK only a few months prior during the Albacore Internationals. What a great time; I felt as if I had "won" even before we left my house.

We arrived at Solomons Island late on Friday afternoon and were greeted by all the Albacore Sailors who had travelled from places as far south as Florida and as far North as Ottawa. There were old friends and a surprisingly large number of new faces in what was to be one of the largest National championships in the class' history. Having worked hard to promote the Albacore class, along with many others, I felt like we were winning the battle to grow the class.

The scores were very tight following the Saturday of racing. I had brought several cases of beer for general consumption. Judging from the crowd, I had clearly "won" the party for that afternoon as a large group gathered around my truck cracking jokes and reviewing the day's sailing.

Sunday's racing was conducted in a wonderful 25+ knots and brilliant sunshine. My 200 pound crew, Canadian Steve Goode, and I revelled in the breeze, hiking upwind and planing like mad on the reaches. I think just about everyone wins on a day like this.

That Sunday evening I was pulled over by the police while driving truck load of drunken Albacore sailors back to the hotel and was administered a breathalyser. Fortunately, I had not had very much to drink and the officer let me go. Chock up another victory for the week end.

In the end, we won the event, beating a fleet of 46 talented sailors in a variety of conditions - but even if we had not, I would have felt like a winner just being there.

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