Clouds slowly skipped across the sky and scattered the grey daylight revealing only sporadic spots of blue and muddling the colors of the boats bobbing near the docks below.
It was nearing 5 p.m. and water lapped against the hull of the “Sinister Smile” as members of the CSUN Sailing Club worked to get the boat ready for a 6 p.m. race near the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey.
“Sheets are what we call ropes that control the sail,” said Albert De La Rosa as he held up a slackened rope with bare fingers protruding from a black glove.
De La Rosa is working toward earning his teaching credentials in history and Spanish at CSUN. He wore a bright red CSUN sailing club t-shirt and a baseball cap with the Xbox Live logo emblazoned across the front.
De La Rosa’s job was to man the jib sheets “or the ropes that control the front sail,” he said. “These require a wench, because this sail is so big and the power that it has on it is such that we couldn’t hold it, it might blow us over.”
Edmund Yost, a history major, sat nearby watching De La Rosa as he demonstrated the techniques.
This is his second time sailing with the club since Yost joined two weeks ago.
“Last time I was out here was great, but trial by fire today because it’s a race,” said Yost.
Nearby, at the bow, or front of the boat stood Amber Moffat, a CSUN masters of communication studies student.
“I took a sailing class like two years ago and got hooked,” said Moffat. “I do fore decking on this boat, so I do everything on the bow of the boat…so I do the jib.”
She pointed to a large sail that sat on the bow of the boat, wrinkled like a big crumpled piece of paper.
“So we use our spinnaker pole, which I’ll set up with the jib sheet to go down wind because it helps to push the jib sail out to gain more wind when you’re going down wind,” said Moffat.
Her other responsibilities include watching for traffic on the water during the races and launching the boat from the dock.
“I got in touch with the sailing club after I bought this racing boat in 2006,” said Joseph Karr O’Connor, manager of University Web Communications and owner of the “Sinister Smile.”
“And I invited some members to come out and get into keel boat racing,” he added. Before this, the club had little experience with keelboats.
“They’ve been a regular part of my crew ever since,” O’Connor said. “Some CSUN sail club members have actually joined the Del Rey Yacht Club as collegiate members and we’re extending the CSUN sail club a parking place for…storage for their three boats.”
As the crew began to hoist the main sail, O’Connor stood at the stern, rear, of the boat holding two ropes to ensure they wouldn’t tangle.
De La Rosa and Arastu Shah, CSUN software engineering graduate student, stood close to the mast and raised the sail.
“I’m going to take care of the main sail today, to make sure that it is not locking and can catch the maximum wind and help us go as fast as we can,” said Shah.
This was Tabitha Kostka’s first day with the sailing club. She’s a business management major.
“Tomorrow’s actually the day where they teach the beginners, but I’m coming out to the race anyway,” said Kostka. “I went to the meeting for the sailing club then I got an e-mail saying that I could come out and race today.”