Blasting out of College: A Newcomer's view of the 505 Class


Sitting in my apartment on a rainy November afternoon in Norfolk, I thought things could only get worse with final exams looming in the near future. But then a killer message popped up on my e-mail messages list. "got a boat," crew, and ride for you to go to Sailfest, please reply immediately!!!" it" seemed like a message from God, and after that weekend was over and after seeing "the man" in action moving boats and putting together combinations for the Midwinters, I began to think Ali Meller was God (We all have to give him a ton of credit).

From the moment I stepped into "spot," (Barney Harris' sweet ride) I knew this was the class for me. "have a beer dude," my crew George Saunders said and handed me the finest beer I've had in months, a Red Wolf which Barney assured me wasn't very good but for me, anything beats Milwaukee's Best. And so the weekend went, things were just handed to me; a beautiful boat set up perfectly, new sails (with the "big fisher" chute that I fell in love with because it's SO BIG!"), and one of the largest human beings i'd ever" met as my crew (with my 135 lbs, George's 220 was the perfect size and as I found out, also n excellent crew who never makes the same mistake twice). As far as the races went, George and I were always in the top two but a new guy always has problems and mine was losing boats because of not covering. Boatspeed was never a problem though. Under the tutelage of an unnamed World Champion (who gracefully let me beat him, in hopes of getting me to join the class I'm sure) I learned some basics of light to medium air 505 sailing (I couldn't believe I was able to get "big george" out on the wire in 6-8 knots of breeze, these things make light air sailing FUN!). Never before have I had so much help learning how to sail a boat, everyone helped!!! After winning the last race, a light air drifter, I was pumped to do another regatta.

After a couple of e-mail transmissions and some phone calls, I had a boat and crew for the midwinters and what a show! My boat arrived New Years day on the top of good 'ol Spot and there was Barney and Ethan "coach" Bixby to help me take the boat off. The next two days I had the greatest rides I've ever experienced on a sailboat. Mitchell Rogers, a local Laser stud and renowned trap crew, and I sailed both mornings in 25-30 knots of breeze. All day long, between spitting out lung-fulls of Tampa Bay, I kept saying "this beats the hell out" of FJ sailing!!" each day i dropped the rig back as far as the forestay" would let it and I was still flogging the main and jib at times, always planing like crazy in full control.

Everyone showed up for the regatta and it was great, I knew almost everyone and those I didn't know were a blast. This was the deepest fleet I had ever sailed in; All Americans, World, National, and North American Champs everywhere, I thought I'd be lucky not to get last! With a quite decent boat (spinnaker launchers are awesome), good sails (another chute which Tyler called a "bomber," the one that sent Mitchell into hyperspace earlier in the week), and a psyched up crew (Mike Buczkowski, a Lightening master with minimal trap experience), I managed a tenth! I was psyched. I once again proved my "drifting" prowess by finishing second in a race to the EX-college sailors, Mike and Nick (Don't they act it, Ali? ha ha) and was never far off the pace in other conditions.

With the knowledge that Tyler Moore never finished better than 12th in his first three regattas, and tons of good will on and off the water, I was ready to blow all my savings on a new boat (my parents are afraid of this). But for now, I'll be happy with my accomplishments and wait until spring to buy a wood-decked Kevlar Lindsay. It's a huge relief to find a class to sail in after college, a boat that's actually FUN to practice in! For anyone who's on the fence or inquiring about the class, go for a ride, I know you'll get hooked and getting up to speed isn't hard. And if you think it's just a "blast-out-to-the-corner" boat, think again, these guys can hang in the best classes. But don't take my word for it, try it, you won't be disappointed, with the sailing or the partying.

-Chris Museler