On Saturday I got to cover another new (to me) Stanford varsity sport: sailing. Stanford’s sailing team was hosting the McIntyre Intersectional at their boathouse in Redwood Shores just up 101 from campus. I signed up to cover the first day of the races, not knowing what to expect.
Sally Mace and Katie Riklin of Stanford sailing turn their boat during the first day of the McIntyre Intersectional at Redwood Shores. Stanford won all 9 races of the day.
I talked with the coach the previous day about getting on a chase boat to shoot the action. He told me to be there at 9:30 to get on a boat for the races to start at 10. I arrived well before because I honestly wasn’t sure where I was supposed to meet him. The boathouse is listed on the website but there’s another location listed a few exits up 101. I wasn’t even sure what I was getting into as far as boats and waters go. I could have shown up to a kiddie pool filled with those toy sailboats the French kids play with in the fountain outside the Louvre for all I knew. I had seen pictures of these huge America’s Cup things but I didn’t know if they’d be getting into that either.
Kevin Laube and Kelly Ortel of Stanford sailing race for the lead against Hawaii during the first day of the McIntyre Intersectional at Redwood Shores.
When I arrived, I introduced myself to John the coach and he said we may have a delay due to no wind. He was right. I looked out onto the bay and saw it was as he described: “a swimming pool.” Knowing nothing about sailing, I didn’t even realize that was a bad thing. After standing around during the delay with very little visuals, especially sailing related, I was getting really hungry. I also knew that I was slated to be there all day. So I snuck away. I didn’t bring my laptop on this shoot because I thought I’d be on a boat the whole day. That was dumb. So I drove all the way back home, microwaved a burrito (yes, at 11am) and grabbed my laptop. When I came back, all the boats were gone. Shit.
Boats wait at the start of one of the races during the McIntyre Intersectional hosted by Stanford.
It turns out the sailing I would be covering was team sailing and it takes place just off the shore still in the harbor in relatively small boats on a relatively small course that can easily be viewed from land. I did not know that though and just saw empty docks. Coach said he would be in and out in his boat throughout the day so I could get on whenever, so I wasn’t too worried. Just then he rolled in, Miami Vice-like, on his motorboat.
Coach John Vandemoer of Stanford sailing steers his motorboat through the harbor during the McIntyre Intersectional.
He explained to me they went out to test the wind and still had nothing so there’d be a further delay. So I went in and edited some baseball images. Things got going close to lunchtime eventually. And it was awesome.
Coach John Vandemoer asks for confirmation on the placement of a marker while changing the race course during the McIntyre Intersectional at Redwood Shores.
I couldn’t even begin to explain the strategy and all the rules of team sailing but I can tell you my perceptions. First, as a non-sailor, one couldn’t think of all the strategy and strength involved. I just kind of assumed there was some because it’s a sport and it’s not just called “Sitting in Boats”. Each team has three boats with two people in each boat. The matches are head-to-head so six boats are racing at a time. They basically race an up-and-back-and-up course making an “N” across the harbor. The start is a rolling start probably similar to NASCAR type stuff. The start is counted off with a whistle and if your boat is past a certain line created by a bobbing buoy and the start boat you are flagged and forced to get to the other side of the line before crossing it again. Then all six boats are off and you are trying to work your way through the course. It’s a team event because you’re not just racing for first place. You are trying to get all three of your boats across to beat the other team. Each place is assigned a value and you are trying to get the lowest number. The magic number being 10 or lower. If you get first, you get one point, second, you get two, etc. So if your team gets second, third and fifth, you win or first, third and sixth you win, etc.
Rebecca King and Mateo Vargas of Stanford sailing work the ropes in a turn during the first day of the McIntyre Intersectional at Redwood Shores.
That makes the racing and tactics very interesting. I guess the main idea is to get good speed and position but also to block opponent’s wind by being upwind from them. That seems so organic and weird to me. I definitely could not see that element of the game and probably only would if I was in the sailboat itself. Something Jayne and I hope to do this summer with the Stanford sailing camp. Better order some boat shoes.
Sally Mace and Katie Riklin watch their sails as they cross the finish line of a race during day one of the McIntyre Intersectional.
I was shuttled from start boat to finish boat by Coach Vandemoer. He and his sailors who were administering the race were very friendly and were kind to answer all of my stupid questions. As a photographer, I am normally just a bystander but at one point I even got in on the act. I wasn’t shooting and they were moving the race course because of changing wind direction (the coach’s weather knowledge was insane!). The coach was yelling to move the finish boat now, but one sailor in the motorboat I was on was busy and the other had to drive the boat, so I pulled in the anchor. I felt like a real life pirate.
The Stanford sailing team gets pre-race instructions from their coach during the McIntyre Intersectional.
Stanford ended up winning the event, 14-1. For more photos from the races, go to StanfordPhoto.com.