Sailing is great. Sailing with friends is even better. Sailing with friends as part of an amazing community is best of all!

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I love, LOVE, racing sailboats. I’ve been doing it since before I can remember. And Monday night’s Sloop Tavern Yacht Club Ballard Cup race off of Shilshole Bay Marina really hit home for me. It was beer can racing at its finest.

Imagine this, if you will… I’m out on the Santa Cruz 27 Wild Card, not pedaling like we’d done for most of the previous Monday in the WA360 race, but sailing — SAILING! Glorious sailing. Such a novel concept, and it gave this particular event glimmers of semi-civilized yachting.

Beyond the moments of wind-filled-Dacron bliss, my elation on this inconspicuous Monday night also came from being on the boat with great friends. What gets better than that? Well, I’ll tell you. What gets better is that we were racing in good company with a slew of other sailing aficionados who seemed equally as excited to be out for a Monday night foray around the bay. From newbies to old salts, I couldn’t help but wave at so many people on other boats — some I knew and lots that I didn’t.

Before the start, we tooled around under mainsail alone to get a feel for what the wind was doing and what the start line looked like. There was a heavy easterly component to the breeze that mostly wanted to shift south. My thought was that boats were going to stack up at the eastern committee boat end of the line, and I opted to bring us in at the pin with the #1 and then harden up for the windward mark. That plan worked … until it didn’t. We had a very timely start and were gaining on boats above us, but. But! A combination of dirty air and headers soon had us adjusting our thoughts from, “We’re making the mark!” to “We’re definitely not making the mark.”

Not surprisingly, we didn’t make the mark and had to tack towards the breakwater to find clean air and room.

Rounding the buoy, we set our big black asymmetrical in 8 knots of true breeze that had subsequently shifted farther south. Bounding downwind now, we managed to make up for what we’d lost on the first upwind leg and dusted off a couple of our competitors. That, it turns out, was about the best we’d manage for the next and then final lap around the race course. And you know what? For love of the game, I’m good with that.

In what was our first time buoy racing Wild Card together, and we sailed well. More importantly, though, we had a great time doing it in company with so many others on a beautiful Pacific Northwest evening. If there is something more you could ask for, I don’t know what it would be. This night of racing was about as good as it gets.