The Harbor Report: Superstitions are serious business

Over the last couple of weeks you might have noticed I am a superstitious person when it comes to my routine before and while I am boating.

It starts when dressing. Which shirt, pants and hat have the right mojo for the event I am attending that day? I need the right song in the car as I leave my driveway and change my watch. This year my song has been the theme from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." Once on the boat, I take off my sandals and place them in the back of the boat.

I can't tell you any more about my routine without giving away my secret mojo.

I called some sailing and fishing champions who are well recognized throughout our harbor. Everyone I talked to agreed that bananas are not allowed on fishing vessels or racing sailboats.

When I asked Chris Raab if he was superstitious and what his routine was, he walked the other way.

His wife, whose name I didn't catch, laughed and said, "Oh, yeah, he has quite the routine."

Chris never did return my calls the following day.

I spoke with Bill Menninger during last weekend's H20 Fleet Championship, which he and his wife, Diane, won, making it their fourth. Bill said that he tries not to put much thought into his superstitions, but did say he prefers to wear dark shirts to present a more competitive attitude.

Mark Gaudio also was a little reluctant in revealing his routine.

"I start by picking socks for the day," he said over the phone. "If I won an event, I will place the date and the event name on the inside of the sock and will only wear them the following year for that event. I have big boat socks, dinghy socks, I am not sure where a Harbor 20 fits in, is it a big boat or a dinghy? So I don't wear any shoes when sailing Harbor 20s."

Mark also had a pair of blue sailing shorts that he would only wear on Sundays if he needed them. He will never attend the skippers meeting, he always sends his crew, and if he is leading after the first day, he will wear the same exact clothes for the rest of the event.

Dave Ullman said his superstitions are a form of comfort.

"Once the race starts, all my superstitions are disregarded and I will focus on sailing logically," he said.

But before a race, Dave said he is very careful about his routine, including never stepping on cracks while walking to the event and never wearing the shirt from the regatta he is racing in. He will wear lucky hats and shirts, and if he is winning, like Mark, he always wears the same clothes from the day before.

Dave said that sailors never win the practice race before a big event and that he has turned around and not crossed over the finish line.

I wanted to get a better idea of some of our local fishermen's routines. This group was a much harder nut to crack because I don't walk the walk and or even come close to talking the talk.

When I approached JD from JD Tackle on Balboa Island, next to the ferry, I had to drop a few names before I could get a good response from this old salt.

"Bananas on board is one of the biggest crimes," he said. "Big game tournaments have fellow, competing anglers hanging a bunch of them under the bow pulpits of rival boats. Women on board causes problems to no end. Bring a camera, it's like reverse karma. Morning with the wind out of the southeast, the fish bite the least. ... They [offshore fish] bite better when there's a westerly breeze.

I also had a chance to talk to Chris Webb. He said that it's always wise to have a pink jig in the water and that he has lucky fishing spots he always returns to.

He also said he listens to Bob Marley.

"The fish like Bob," he said. "You also need to make sure you take down your catch flags from your privies trip before you leave the harbor and yes I have my collection of lucky hats."

So do you ever find yourself saying that one of these champions found a lucky wind shift or got lucky by finding the fish over and over again?

I do and still wonder how Dave passed me when I pushed him to the left side of the course during Balboa Yacht Club Championships this year and he went on to win that one race and the Championships. Could it have been the fact he is a also a world champion or was it that crack in the sidewalk outside the club?

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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