Racing

Shambler

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“Ooohhh, is that a Rambler shirt?”

It was a female sailor cooing to the rest of her all-female crew at Antigua Sailing Week as I walked past their charter boat at Jolley Harbor. Tempting but—

I glued my eyes to the dock and kept right on walking, pretending that I hadn’t heard her comment. Not only am I happily married, I’m also a sailing journalist and, sadly, not a legit crew member of George David’s masterfully sailed Reichel/Pugh 90, Rambler.

Ten minutes later, I’m standing at the dinghy-landing zone waiting for a water taxi to take me back to SAIL’s charter boat, a cold beer in hand, happily reliving my day’s experiences aboard Rambler. My mind drifts back to perfect A-sail sets and gybes, and the sheer thrill of rolling past mere 70-footers like they were standing still.

I’m approached by a cute, 30-something female.

“Excuse me,” she asks, a bit star struck. “Do you sail on Rambler?

“Er, well, no,” I fess up. “I’m a sailing writer, and they were kind enough to have me aboard for the day. And they gave me the shirt.”

“So you’re not part of the crew?” she asks, obviously dejected.

“No,” I reply, “I’m just a journalist.”

“Oh,” my new friend offhandedly says as she walks off, looking for the real McCoy. The shirt, which had felt fine before, suddenly starts burning against my chest, particularly beneath the section that displays the boat’s name and sail number. I sip my beer and hope the taxi will get here soon. Instead, a group of three “racer chasers” (yes, lads, they do exist) approach, staggering a bit from their night’s fun.

Rambler, eh,” the spokeswoman says, her bravado high, her inhibitions low. “Where are the rest of your friends?”

I mumble my excuse, that I’m just a sham, when her friend steps to the plate.

“Why don’t you call them up and invite them over. We’d like to party with the Rambler boys tonight.”

My wedding band feels heavy, perhaps a bit like the ring carried by Frodo Baggins, and I explain that the boys they’re looking for are docked across the island from the cruising division at Falmouth Harbour. The excuse doesn’t deter their enthusiasm.

“But you can just call them up. You don’t think that they’d like to party with us?” offers the third woman.

Just then, the water taxi arrives and I awkwardly extricate myself from the now-sticky situation, feeling like a complete fraud. But honesty aside, where had this shirt been during my single years?

Arriving back at the boat, my friends ask about my day’s adventures. I tell them the story of perfect gybes and exciting starting sequences, but I can tell that their attention is waning.

“And I also got propositioned by three woman at the dock.”

I just wanted to see if anyone was still paying attention.

“WHAT?” Comes the chorus of male voices. “And you’re here? You must be a newlywed!” We laugh, and I tell the story. Suddenly, one of my friends perks up, as if the Eureka! light had just ignited in his noggin.

“It’s easy, fellas,” he says. “We’ll make up our own shirts. They’ll look just like Rambler’s, except we’ll swap out the R for an ‘Sh’. At a party, nobody’ll notice the difference! Just think of all the girls you could get with one of those shirts!”

So, if ethics and honesty aren’t your strong suits, give it a try. It might just work.

Posted: May 8, 2008

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