Thanks to my friends' kind generosity we raised more money for Caregivers than any of the other 19 boats that participated. This earned my name on a Perpetual trophy that we will proudly display at least one year at my home club: Ventura Sailing Club. A friend of mine pointed out that the smallest boat in the fleet earned the most money. The Caregivers Sailathon is an annual event to raise funds for one of my favorite charities. Caregivers provides free assistance and companionship to frail, homebound elderly. Young volunteers provide company, help with chores around the house, drive seniors to their doctor appointments, etc. For the Sailathon, they set up a triangle course near the Ventura Pier, which is a good place for spectators, and boats do as many laps as possible between Noon and 2 p.m. It is model after a jogathon. Supporters can either pledge $X per lap completed or make a set donation. Sunday was another beautiful Fall day in Ventura, but, as is often the case this time of the year, the wind was predicted to be light for most of the day. Knowing this I took my SUP paddle with me and I did have to use it briefly. I figured it would take me an hour to get from the harbor to the Sailathon at the pier if I could average 3 knots, but just to be safe I left the dock at about 10:40 a.m. It was taking forever to drift out of the harbor so I pulled out my trusty SUP paddle, centered the tiller using the Velcro autopilot, and paddled out from behind the breakwater into the glorious 3 knot wind in the ocean. I found I was able to stand on the leeward side of the boat, one foot on the trampoline and one on the ama, and paddle a pretty straight course. Once I was out of the harbor there was just enough wind to propel me at 2 - 3 knots so I steadily sailed down to the pier and arrived at the starting line with 5 minutes to spare. Bagging rays and looking back at the other 19 boats coming up behind me was quite impressive. The fleet of 20 boats included 4 beach cats, my Weta, an L7 trimaran and 14 keel boats including a Farr 400,J105 and a Wylie Rabbit. Precisely at noon we started the sailathon and it was slow going. It took me about 40 minutes to complete the first lap. But, at 12:45 p.m. the wind did increase enough and hold steady that, before the 2 p.m. end time, I was able to complete 6 laps. The Farr 400 and the Wylie Rabbit and the 4 beach cats beat me around the course. But, I did pretty well, lapping everybody else except the J105 once. And, I was catching the Wylie Wabbit as the wind picked up, but ran out of time to actually pass it. As was predicted, the wind increased to about 10 - 12 knots with an occasional stronger gust after the sailathon, so the beach cats and I stayed out and kept sailing for another hour. It was during that hour that we had the most fun. By the end of the day my trip computer indicated that I had sailed over 17 nm, had a top speed of 13.2 knots, but averaged less than 5 knots, due to the light winds for the first 2 hours I sailed. It was an excellent day on the water for me. I had a fun sail and, thanks to my friends generosity, helped to make a significant donation to a very worthy charity, Caregivers. Bob Shirley
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