Driving with a smile on his face
Published on May 24th, 2021
One of the shifts during the 2020 season was family sailing, which was a reaction to the pandemic regulations but also was a reminder of how the sport had drifted away from this dynamic. However, family teams may require compromise to maintain harmony.
The interesting moments tend to outlive the competitive accomplishments in our memory, and Steve Schupak recalls a long-ago family outing with in-laws Tom and Jane Schock on the family’s Schock 40, SchockaZulu:
Every spring Newport Harbor Yacht Club celebrates the “opening of the season” like many clubs around the country. And for decades, NHYC has begun that celebration weekend with a race from LA Harbor to Newport Beach… essentially a fun sail/party down the coast, and this year was no different.
However, sailing a Schock 40 is about going fast, and we were not about to let the breeze from astern go to waste, so we had the race crew forward of the traveler, and the cruising crew in the back of the bus and out of harm’s way.
It was a glorious day, starting with 8-12 knots from the west, and once we got past the slight uphill segment and turned the corner out Angeles Gate, we popped the big kite and it was go time. Schockazulu was in her prime doing 12-15 knots without a drop of spray coming over the deck. The crew was in sync, Tom was in the groove driving the slight swells and chop; it was simply heaven.
Jane, back in the cruising end of the bus was hanging out with my oldest son Riley, who at the time was about five. She had the death grip on the loop on Riley’s life jacket handle while Riley hung his legs over the transom and sometimes feeling the cool water as we came off a wave.
Also over the transom was Riley’s pink plastic powerboat on a string keeping pace with us most of the time. Sometimes, the boat would flip and he’d have to drag it back in to right it, all the while as Tom would look back at all the weight in the transom, grit his teeth and keep driving with a smile on his face.
At one point we were trying to zero in on where the finish line was on the GPS, when all of a sudden the screen went blank! Panic erupted on the racing end of the boat. Circuit breakers were tested, connections to the back of the unit were tested. All looked good. Then I looked back to the cruising zone and noticed Riley was now sitting on top of the low profile GPS antenna.
“Riley, could you move a little bit off that little white bump in the deck?” I asked, and voila, the GPS came back to life instantly and we were able to plot our course to the finish! Sanity was restored.
Riley may not remember this race, but he’s still active in boating as is the rest of our family all these years later.