May Junior Skipper Fast Track - The Signing of the White Cards
Anthony Lunnis and I organized the May Fast Track for our senior project. We spent two months putting it together by asking volunteers to teach, cook, and/or test, as well as blasting the Cal Sailing listserv. We suggested to every potential Junior that they should join in to get their rating. And sure enough, our excel lists soon filled up with potential participants and volunteers.
Fast Track went off without a hitch…until the last day…when the fire department showed up. They had responded to a call about lots of capsized dinghies in the south sailing basin. Yves is bent over the window of a fire truck in front of the Yard. “Well, Joel here, the Fast Track coordinator, contacted Berkeley Fire Department to let them know we would be doing drills, including capsizing, and not to worry.” I speak up, “I even spoke with a supervisor.” The Fireman nods, “Oh, well there is no supervisor on duty tonight, that’s why. This is our first call all week. No worries.”
I scamper away and down to the dock just in time to hear Jennifer shout, “Be careful, don’t kill another puppy!” as Nathaniel steers a Bahia toward the dock, going a little hot and then S-turning to blow off speed and gliding to a soft landing. “Killing puppies?” I ask. Jennifer responds, “People have been coming in too fast for docking” as if it makes perfect sense to equate hitting the dock with killing cute baby animals. Maybe they’re supposed to picture a puppy between the boat and the dock? Those poor, poor puppies! “We will be working on slow sailing and docking at the next advanced class,” she warns. For the sake of the puppies, of course.
Soon, the sun has set behind Mt. Tam and Hs. Lordships restaurant, making the water radiate a deep blue. The air feels a bit cooler and the last dinghy is on the hoist and swinging around to face its trailer. As it is pushed into the yard I tell the shivering, exhausted, future Junior sailors, “go change out of your wetsuits. We will take care of the sail covers.”
“Are you sure?” they ask, hesitant, as if this still part of their junior test.
“Yes, the sooner you are changed, the sooner we can all eat!” I say.
And then I turn to the gathering crowd of fast track participants and CSC regulars, beers in hand, salivating at the smell of Sybil’s chicken on the grill. I’m super impressed by the crowd of instructors, a mix of juniors and seniors, volunteering their time to share their skills with others, some of them having come to the club nearly every day this week. We also have the students: a couple gained their junior skipper rating earlier in the week but still stuck around each day to help their classmates. A handful just passed and some of them don’t even know it yet because a sadistic senior skipper tested them. And, a few more students are slightly reserved but still outwardly happy. They tried hard. They came close, some of them very close. They will get their junior skipper rating soon, just not today.
I walk to the whiteboard, which we use to track participant’s progress, and it has several new juniors signed off. I start making the rounds asking seniors, “So, how did it go? Did they pass?” When I come to ask Lon, he is interrupted by a participant with a white card asking for a signature. “I’m not signing yet. We are going to sign them all together, in the clubhouse.”
“The food’s ready,” Sybel half-whispers to me. Grilled chicken, eggplant, and zucchini. Homemade corn bread and buns. Cupcakes.
I ring the bell. We thank the cooks. We eat!
Soon, it is time for announcements. After a brief round of acknowledgements, we announce that we had nine new juniors this week. The crowd goes wild.
Next, we are corralling everyone into the club house and there are more people in there than during one of our Open House days. It’s cozy. Day leader Antony starts singing pomp and circumstance, then others join in. One by one the seniors call up the juniors they passed. The senior signs off on the white card of each new Junior. The crowd cheers. The new Junior moves the card to the Junior binder. The crowd cheers. Then, the new group of juniors amass and begin swaying and singing together as they are photographed. A new CSC tradition is born!