Two hundred yards
from the mark, Dyce slid forward on his belly to attach the spinnaker halyard.
Two boat lengths from the mark, he stood up and fastened the pole to the mast,
ignoring the slope of the deck (wet and slippery because Samuelson refused to
put sand in his paint), and then—the boat still changing direction as it
swooped around the buoy, the deck leveling off under his feet—he was hoisting
the spinnaker. Just clear of the mark, with water visible between their stern
and the buoy, the spinnaker filled with air, as his father and brother hauled
on the lines.
The nylon bubble
billowed in front of them, striped blue-and-white. Again the mood changed with
the new course, the wind almost at their backs now. There was exaltation,
nothing less, as their spirits were blown high and forward like the spinnaker
itself, and it was on that surge that they rode past Houghton, who was still
struggling to raise his spinnaker. They were third.
A wave rolled
under them. "Welcome to Waikiki," Dyce shouted as they surfed down its
face, and the shout seemed funny to them, the three of them laughing together
like a group of drunkards, secretly loving each other, too, like drunkards.
a tiger," Samuelson said, and the boys knew what he meant; it was an old
saying that it was safer to ride a tiger's back than to dismount. But what
choice did they have? They were swooping down on the black can, and they would
have to jibe around it.
on the committee boat to give us a jibe in this weather," said Samuelson.
Neither of the others could remember him making such a remark.
Nat was afraid
and watched the other boats for reassurance, watched Mackenzie reach the mark,
jibe, stagger a moment and then right himself on the new course. Before Hunt
reached the mark Dyce had already gone forward to release the spinnaker pole
from the mast. Then Samuelson moved the tiller a few inches with his hip,
holding the spinnaker sheet in his left hand while the mainsail crashed from
one side of the boat to the other because no one had a free hand to trim it. It
was all Samuelson could do to uncleat the main and then recleat it, hanging on
to one spinnaker line while Nat took the other. It was more than he could do,
in fact. He couldn't control the spinnaker, but he couldn't let go of the line
either, and the spinnaker pole was going forward and up in the air. Dyce was
still on deck, trying to hold the pole down, and Nat was rushing forward to
help bring the pole down and back, because at any moment it might pull the
headstay out of the boat and dismast them. The boat kept rounding up into the
wind, the end of the boom in the water now, because no one was free to trim the
mainsail, and Samuelson couldn't get his left arm free of that spinnaker line
even if he wanted to. It was tearing his shoulder out of its socket. Then Dyce
and Nat had the pole under control, and Dyce held it aft while Nat fastened the
line. Dyce jumped into the cockpit and trimmed the mainsheet. The old man held
on to the tiller with his free hand and forced the boat to head off, away from
the wind, so that the boom would come out of the water and they wouldn't swamp
after all. Strangely, they hadn't lost a boat. Houghton had closed the gap
somewhat but they were still in third place.
At last the line
leading from the spinnaker pole was safely cleated, with Samuelson still
holding on. He didn't let go until Dyce came and took the tiller. Then he
opened his fingers with great effort, but he was unable to lower his arm. His
shoulder was sticking out at right angles to his chest.
it." The arm was held out toward Dyce at the tiller, but Dyce didn't say
anything. He just kept working at the tiller.
pull it, damn it." This time the arm pointed at Nat. Nat shrank back.
forward." Nat took hold of the hand, which was ice cold and covered with
sweat. He tugged.