Suddenly, Kat heard a loud crash. She whipped her head around to see what the commotion was. Almost everyone in the bar was moving out towards the hallway. Loud voices were heard coming from outside the bar doors from hallway where the trophies were kept. The bar was on the second floor of the yacht club. Trophies were kept in glass cases lining the outside of the bar, boasting of the yacht club members achievements. The hallway looked down on a grand staircase that lead towards the banquet rooms, where the trophy ceremonies were held. Kat heard two men yelling. Joining the crowed, she exited the bar to see what all the commotion was about.
She recognized the voice before she saw anything. Nate’s thick Eastern European accent was clearly recognizable. Although he was slurring his words so bad, she couldn’t make out a word he was saying.
Nate had been a member of the yacht club for years. He owned a Lazer and raced it ever week. Nate was not an easy person to get along with. He was loud, brazen, obnoxious and constantly in your face. But she liked him okay, he never been rude to her. But he was clearly ruffling someone’s feathers right now.
As she entered the hallway she saw broken glass everywhere. She was shocked when she saw blood running down his arm. He held a trophy in his hands and was taunting someone with it.
Kat didn’t know what was going on, but she could tell that Nate had somehow crossed a line.
“Nate, you mother fucking son of a bitch. Give that back to me right now! Or so help me God, I will bash your fucking face in.”
‘Holy shit!’ thought Kat. ‘This is some serious shit.’
Nate held the trophy tauntingly in front of Truck. Truck was a big guy. Not someone you wanted to mess with. And he was also a yacht club member. This could be bad.
Nate’s speech was slurred, but he’s cockiness came through loud and clear. “You rammed my boat and you didn’t do your penalty turns. You don’t deserve this and you never did.”
Truck grabbed Nate by the collar and pushed him hard against the railing that looked over the staircase.
“Yeah, you’re a tough guy. Real tough. But your woman likes it soft. Soft and sweet. That’s what I give her. She loves it.”
Truck shook Nate hard. The trophy fell to bottom of the stairwell with a loud crash. People downstairs in the trophy ceremony were beginning to pile out to check out the situation. Everyone looked up to see Nate half-way hanging over the edge of the railing, pinned by Truck who seemed to be double in size.
“You fucking piece of shit. I should drop you over this railing right now for talking about my wife that way. Go back to your own damn country and stop fucking with everyone here. Nobody likes you. You are worthless piece of shit who can’t sail to save your life. Stay out of my Goddamn way on the water or I will sink your boat next time.”
Nate managed to free the arm that had been hanging onto the trophy. He took a half-assed, drunken swing at Truck and missed. That was all the incentive that Truck needed. He backed up from Nate slightly and took a full swing at his face. The impact left Nate woozy. He fell to floor, laughing as he clutched his head. His eye was already swelling. He looked like a madman, laughing on the floor in fetal position, blood running down his arm from the glass case he had broken, apparently to get at Truck’s trophy, a shiner starting to appear from the coldcock.
Mario had come out from behind the bar and was pushing Truck away from Nate. “Okay, okay guys. Break it up.”
Most of the crowed was beginning to circle around Truck, trying to get a clear explanation from him about what just happened. Kat wanted nothing to do with this scene. She went back to the bar to try and finish her beer in peace. ‘Right, peace. In this place. Never a dull moment at least.’
“What the hell was that all about?” She looked over her shoulder to see Doug and Bill approaching.
“You know Nate. Always in someone’s face. He’s lucky if he doesn’t get kicked out after that stunt. Did you see that glass everywhere? Looks like the son-of-a-bitch punched right through the trophy case.”
Both men pulled up seats at the bar.
“I’m sure Mario will be right back. He’s probably cleaning up the glass.” Kat continued. “So, what was this secret meeting all about? Bruce trading in the Sprint 40 for the next latest and greatest boat?”
“Not exactly” Bill offer. “Looks like you’ll have a permanent spot on our boat for high-points this year, if you want it. It’s official, we’re racing.”
“Oh, that’s great news!” Kat was super excited to be able to sail with Doug and Bill for the whole season next year. She hated racing on one boat for Wednesday and another for high-points. The team was never as cohesive that way. This will give them a chance to practice on Wednesdays for the serious races on the weekends.
“Yeah, well… it gets better.” Doug chimed in. “It looks like the Sprint 40 National Championships are going to be held out of Marina del Rey Yacht Club this year. Bruce just made the announcement.”
Kat was beyond excited. She had met Bruce the year after he got back from the championships in Rhode Island. He was constantly telling stories about what an amazing experience it was. She has sailed with him for a couple of years after they met, but he was a Nazi on the boat, constantly yelling at the crew. But he had put an excellent crew together, and the years that Kat raced with him, they had swept the high-points. But there is only so much berating and yelling that a girl could take. Doug and Bill had a great mix going for them. They were competitive, yet mild-mannered on the boat. They trusted their crew to get the job done and didn’t hold two hour debriefs after each race. She had pounced on the opportunity to race Wednesdays with them when they bought the Sprint 40. But Bruce never let Kat forget her infidelity. As far as he was concerned, he had trained her and she should be sailing with him. Kat knew that unquestionably not true, but everybody was always trying to take credit for “teaching her the ropes”, so to speak. Since her “betrayal” she had been walking on eggshells around Bruce.
“That is great news! Oh, my gosh! I can’t wait to tell Davin. He will be so excited!”
“We’re going to try to keep the same crew that we have right now, as long as everyone is okay with the time commitment. We’re going to have to buckle down during the off-season to stay in shape.”
For a moment, Kat’s heart sunk. Snowboard season. She closed her eyes and imagined the long, steep run down the top of Cornice to the bottom of Broadway after a storm. Her board cutting through the epic POW-POW that Mammoth is known for. Her winter home away from home. She sighed.
“I know.” said Doug. “You’re thinking about Mammoth. I know it’s a lot to ask. But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You’re okay with this, right? I promise to give you some weekends off.”
“Yeah, I’m okay with it. But don’t expect the same thing next year.”
“Ha. If you give us your time this year, maybe I’ll even buy your season pass next year!”
Kat would never let him do that, even if he was serious, but she appreciated the offer. Mario had reappeared behind the bar. He was still shaking his head.
“That crazy motherfucker is going to get himself killed one of these days. I just hope it’s not in my bar.” He was clearly referring to Nate.
“Mario! We have some exciting news. Sprint 40 championships are going to be held in SoCal this year.” Doug told the barkeep.
“That’s great news for you guys! Here, beers on the house. What are you drinking?”
The two men ordered Pacificos and Bill offered a toast.
“To a great winter of sailing!”
Doug, Kat and Bill lifted their beers and toasted the occasion.
A week and a day had passed since Bill and Doug had told Kat about the regatta. Actually, a week and a day had passed since Jessie had asked Kat out. Kat was at home on her boat getting dressed for the occasion.
She had moved onto the boat about six months ago. Before that, she had been living in the marina but ever since she was a child she had fantasied about living on a boat. One day, while she was at work, she though ‘Why not? I’m not in a relationship. I’m almost 30. If I’m ever going to do it, it might as well be now!” And with that, she started her hunt for her new home.
She found one in a local advertisement, a 27’ Erickson for $4,000. That was everything she had in the bank and then some. But she scrounged the money together, and within two weeks she owned a boat and had sublet her apartment to one of her friends. She couldn’t bring herself to give up the apartment quite yet. She didn’t know how this was all going to work out and she wanted to keep it around as a security blanket.
Her family back home didn’t know what to make of it. Her dad had told her that one of her uncles had given him a piece of his mind for letting his daughter live in poverty, like a wharf-rat. They had thought she moved on the boat because she couldn’t afford anything else. It never occurred to her that people would ever think that. It was decidedly not true. She worked in promotions. Well, she was trying to work in promotions. Right now she worked in product placement. She paired her clients, the products, with movies and television shows to get air-time for them. But the same studio executives that ran promotions, also ran product placement. So she figured she would use this job to network and hopefully land a studio promotions gig one of these days. She didn’t love it, but she didn’t hate it either. And it was putting her on track for what she really wanted to do. She had graduated college with a degree in marketing about five years earlier and had landed a job almost immediately. At first she thought working in the film business would be exciting, glamorous even. But after working in an office from 9-5 for all these years, she was starting to get disillusioned. Whatever, it paid the bills and she wasn’t completely disenchanted yet. She still held out hope that when she worked for a studio, things would be different. Besides, they let her leave early on Wednesdays so that she could race. It was really just something that afforded her the luxury of being able to sail.
Sailing is an expensive hobby. More so for the boat-owners than for the crew. But the crew had to fork out a pretty penny too, for gear and supplies and travel expenses. That was one of the perks of racing with Bruce. He bought his crew all sorts of schwag with the boat name embroidered on it. Bruce thought it made his team look more professional. Most boat owners gave their crew a single dry shirt with boat name printed on it. But with Bruce you got shorts and jackets and long sleeve shirts and short sleeve shirts and polo shirts (for after the race at the YC) and duffel bags and hats. Two of each, so for weekend-long regattas you could wear a fresh uniform each day. He also always covered hotel costs and meals. Kat was used to sleeping on the boat for over-night regattas. But Bruce spared no expense, putting everyone up in fine hotels and hosting large dinners. Even with all those perks, it just wasn’t worth putting up with Bruce’s yelling. Kat couldn’t image how much money he must have put into each season. It is a sport you do for the love of it. Not something to make money off of.
People who didn’t sail were constantly asking her why she didn’t do it professionally. Being a professional sailor was something that she thought about, but it isn’t that easy. She would have had to start competing at a really young age, like Peter. She had sailed her whole life with her father, but nothing like the type of competitions Peter was doing. And besides, there was always the risk of being fired. She enjoyed not having the pressure of losing her job if she made a wrong move on the boat. And most fleets had caps on how many pro-sailors were even allowed on the boat at one time. In the Sprint 40 fleet, you were allowed to have two pros on board and an owner/driver rule, so that none of the pros could drive the boat. No, she was quite content sailing recreationally. Especially because she did sail at a very competitive level. So it was like all the perks of being a pro-sailor, without any of the pressure. Besides, she wasn’t willing to give up her winters yet.
Kat checked the clock. Quarter to 7pm. She had 15 minutes. She didn’t know why she was so nervous. She had been out with Jessie dozens of times. But he continued to give her those butterflies in her stomach. They got along so well when they were together. And the sex had been beyond incredible. They had met on a boat, of course, during the Ahmanson regatta in Newport Beach. From the moment she laid eyes on him he had turned her on. He was so skilled and so confident. Her desire for him was more animalistic than anything else. That night at the Newport Beach Yacht Club, after quite a few drinks, they snuck away and had sex on the beach, underneath a lifeguard station. She was so raw the next day, she could barely move around the boat. But she loved it. Each time she felt the friction, it reminded her of him. He was adamant that the affair remain a secret. She was okay with that. It added excitement to the adventure.
But Jessie had a way of disappearing that she just couldn’t deal with. They would make plans and he would not show up. She would receive phone calls after weeks of radio silence in the middle of the night, asking her to come over. Yes, she knew they were pure bootie-calls. But the sex was so good, and she wasn’t looking for a real relationship with him anyway. The times they spent together not having sex were just as fun. Their conversation was easy and they had a lot of common interests and hobbies. She just couldn’t deal with being perpetually stood-up. If it wasn’t for that, she would have gone along with the secret fling indefinitely.
She finally lost her cool when they had made plans to see a play. Not only did he not show up, he then refused to take her calls, or call her for over 4 weeks. Then when they finally did speak to each other again, she found out he had gone to see it without her. He gave some lame excuse, claiming to be bed-ridden for most of the time with sickness. Then he gave some bullshit line about how a father-figure back home had passed away. The final straw was drawn when he used that same excuse about the same person dying when they had made plans to get together over last Christmas break, and he had disappeared once again.
She remained friendly with him. They had sailed together for most of the year, but she steered clear of dating him for almost 9 months. Until tonight. She checked her face in the mirror. She didn’t wear any makeup. She didn’t even own any makeup. But she checked just the same. She decided to let her hair down for a change. She pulled out the ponytail holder and shook her head to fluff-out her hair. She put a dab of clear mint-flavored lip balm on. She knew her hair would stick to it if she wore it down, so she kept the ponytail holder on her, just in case.
She checked the clock again. 5 minutes. She was getting restless. She decided to go on deck and wait outside. She closed the wooden hatch behind her and locked the padlock. “This is presumptuous.” She thought. But right then she saw headlines entering the parking lot up the dock.
“Jessie, you may redeem yourself tonight.”