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The Dartmouth
April 19, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Battle of the Sexes

By MIKE MANTELL

Hello readers. Homecoming just sailed by, and a return to reality is on the horizon. After such an action-packed weekend, I could see how the thought of studying for exams, applying for jobs and losing an hour to daylight savings could really take the wind out of your sails. But cheer up! Because you are about to discover what happens when a couple of Ordinary Olivers test their luck against a few dames on the sailing team.

The Setup: This week, my partner Kevin Kennedy '13 and I challenged former sailors Sarah Hylton '13 and Gwen Tetirick '13 to a two-on-two race. We were to sail downwind about 100 yards, circle around a buoy, then sail upwind back to the starting point.

As a young boy, Kevin used to partake in weekend sailing escapades with his family off the coast of Seattle, so he knew what he was doing. Since my experience is limited, I would have to follow his lead. What I lacked in practice I would make up with knowledge; after a bit of Wiki-ing, I discovered that if you direct your boat in a zigzag pattern, it not only increases your speed but also allows your boat to travel against the wind. I assumed that my 10 minutes of research would be more than enough I was ready to get my skipper on. The Showdown: Before boarding the boat, I licked my finger and held it up to feel the wind. I would say the breeze was somewhere between firm and hardy perfect sailing weather. Kevin and I then boarded our ship, the go signal was given and we were off.

The girls shot forward, working cohesively in tandem. Kevin and I leaned back together to keep our boat balanced, but our nautical vehicle was still bobbing in a topsy-turvy manner. We eventually got a rhythm down and flattened out our wobbles to stay within striking distance of the girls.

Gwen and Sarah swung their sail to the other side of the boat, causing them to zag to the left. Kevin and I decided that it would be a good idea for us to do the same. I pulled the rudder slowly as he yanked the rope to swing the sail. We ducked under the bar holding up the sail, and successfully changed directions with a textbook gibe.

We were a couple of feet behind as we were about to attempt our second turn. Again I tugged the rudder, but this time far too quickly. The boat jolted sharply, and I lost my balance and my focus I was totally unaware that Kevin had just pulled the sail in.

I looked up, and the giant bar that holds the sail was coming right at my face memories of my childhood flashed through my thoughts, and I legitimately expected to get beheaded. I flung my hands in front of my face just in time to absorb the blow from the bar. I instinctively caught the sail, which not only caused me to lose my balance and fall off of the boat, but also sent my vessel down with me. Our ship was upside down and we were in the water in a state of flustered confusion.

It took me a few seconds, but I eventually processed what had happened I had just capsized my boat. But I was not demoralized just yet. Sure, my ship was sinking, but my will for victory was still perfectly afloat. I moved behind the boat and started swimming wildly, pushing it with my head. After about three seconds, I realized this plan was failing miserably, and Kevin and I were forced to accept our disqualification. Overwhelmed with bitter embarrassment, we treaded water as we watched the girls finish the race and sail to victory.

The Breakdown: Of all my losses, this one was by far the most shameful I injured myself, capsized a boat and failed to even finish the race. I probably won't be sailing again for a while, or participating in any sports that could get me decapitated, for that matter.

These competitions have not been going as well as I had hoped. I have five losses, one DQ and a pretty sour taste in my mouth. However, this defeat may have been just humiliating enough to give me the spark that I needed. I have a newfound intensity, and next week I assure you that I will be bringing the fire! As of now, it's Mike 0, women's varsity 6.