They say that if you can't pick out the sucker at the table within the first 30 seconds in poker then it's you. It might be the same thing in a yacht race (I love how that sounds, yacht race).
On Sunday, we were our usual 2 minutes late to the line as the captain cowered in the back of the cockpit in mortal fear of the scrum. So we took notice of who we were able to catch up to. One dark blue cruisy-looking 30'+ sloop caught my attention. Ah, that's our competition for the back of the fleet. We will defeat them soundly.
So we're all on starboard heading upwind for the first mark, about when we get to mark-D, it's time to tack over and get some Northing in. I notice that blue-sloop-guy is getting ready to tack, about 50 yards to windward and 50 yards behind us, if all is done right, we should pass just to their stern if we tack at the same time.
All is well, we're both tacking, we basically are even and I'm noticing that they, too, have kids on board and one mighty large propane tank strapped to the pushpit. This is just what I'm noticing. Then, out of nowhere, they stop tacking just about head to wind and go back onto starboard. A female voice rings out clear as a bell: "HA HA", just like Nelson on the Simpsons.
What the hell did that mean? HA HA? Was she mocking us for our ability to actually complete a tack? It was intended for us, I could see her looking at us. Could it have been some sort of advanced psychological warfare that they were going to trick us into going on port (never mind that we had about 3 minutes until we hit the Berkeley Pier if we stayed on starboard)?
We'll never actually know because we're faster on port and we just left them in the dust. I looked back every once in a while to try to sort out their little game but never was able to. After we rounded the windward mark and were heading downhill, we passed near enough that they might have heard me say "ha ha" back at them. No way could it have had the same effect.
After our dramatic last-second whupping of the Tartan 37 (more on that later), we dropped our sails in the marina basin and were heading back to our slip when I noticed our foe out by the breakwater, about 100 feet from the finish line. Oddly, they were standing still. This wasn't some optical illusion, I could see their mast not moving against two points of land. They were aground! In basically the ONLY place on SF Bay you can run aground, within 100 feet of the finish and 5 feet of the breakwater. I guess that answers who was the sucker at this table.