Dreaming (Anxiously) about Sailboat Racing

A few nights ago, I had a vivid dream that I was onboard Katrina—and we were approaching a crowded starting line. As the countdown wound down to zero, my father tacked onto starboard and lined up for a perfect start at the boat end. To help with timing, I ran forward—but, in the irrational way of dreams, I found myself in the forward cabin instead of on the foredeck (where I could actually see what was going on). When the gun went off, we were over early by one second.

Once I woke up, I had a quiet chuckle. And unlike many dreams, the origins were obvious; I’m about to sail my first regatta since last October, and it’s the first time in almost forty years that I’ve taken more than a month or two away from racing. Also, starting is my biggest weakness. Apparently, my subconscious is stressed enough about this looming reentry into my chosen sport to completely bastardize a happy childhood racing memory. 

Cruising World’s lead photo in Coming Across on the ARC by Jimmy Cornell (March 1987) makes it look like Katrina is leading the 200-boat fleet.

When I related this dream to my father, he laughed and said, “Remember being over in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers?” I don’t, but Katrina’s log reminds me; the starting line for this very casual Transatlantic in 1986 was set so late (and we had undoubtedly left the dock so early) that we couldn’t get back downwind in time for our gun. As Dad remembers it, the race committee told us on the radio to “just keep going.” That certainly explains the heady lead we have in the Cruising World photo. 

My dream skipped over any racing, but it closed with a debrief in the cockpit when I accused my father of “being rusty.” That provoked another chuckle after waking, because it was so clearly a case of what the shrinks would call transference—in the barely-remembered voice of my cheekier, less empathetic, younger self. 

After a winter off, I’m obviously very hungry to get back into a Snipe again—even if my starting is as rusty as this dream predicts. And I’m also feeling very grateful: that what passes for a “nightmare” in my world involves no injury to anything but my own ego. I will undoubtedly have yet another chuckle about it when approaching that next starting line, because self-knowledge can be quite entertaining—and laughing at my own rustiness might also help quell those countdown nerves. 

Ever have a dream that taught you something about yourself? Share it in the comments below, or send me an email. And stay tuned to find out how my return to racing turns out!

4 Replies to “Dreaming (Anxiously) about Sailboat Racing”

  1. But just think of all those foiling skills you will bring to the Snipe racing. As you learned at your last race they do transfer.

  2. This reminds me of the years in a classroom, when each August had me running from room to room, naked of course, not able to find my students!

    Cheers – and maybe we’ll see you at some Snipe regattas,
    Karen Disch

    1. Karen, thanks for this. Great to hear that others have similar dreams! As for Snipe regattas, there are lots of options: Colonial Cup? Nationals? District 1 Champs here in Newport? Hope to see you sometime this season.

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