Tuesday, March 14, 2006


It was raining all the time on the 80 mile drive to the yacht club on Sunday. I changed into my drysuit as soon as I arrived and rigged the Laser as it continued to rain. It was raining when we launched. It was raining as we sailed out to the racecourse. It was raining almost continuously for the three hours we raced. The wind for the six races varied from zero to four knots. The sky was grey; the sea was grey. My results were mediocre at best.

But it was the first day of frostbite racing at the club for three months and a bad day of sailing beats a good day of ... well, whatever else you would be doing on any given Sunday.

Ward Esaak of About Sailing wrote a post a couple of days ago entitled Expect Mistakes warning sailors, especially beginners, to expect things to go wrong when they go sailing. Eric Twiname in his book Sail, Race and Win makes a similar point. He encourages every sailor to be their own coach and points out that the sailor and the coach in each of us have different reactions to mistakes that happen during a race. For the helmsman they are frustrating and annoying; for the coach, "mistakes are welcomed as imperfections in sailing ability which he can help the sailor work on and iron out, so they will not recur in future races".

Ah yes. Imperfections. Always find some of those when I race. Sunday was no exception. Yes Eric, I will try and welcome them and do some ironing out.

This time it wasn't anything disastrous like the boat breaking into pieces, getting into it with a fellow sailor or a major screw-up at a mark rounding. For those of you that enjoy reading about my major goofs I apologize. But I did learn a couple of things...

Firstly my boat speed upwind in this light stuff was way off the pace. I think the main reason was that I rely too much on the telltales on my sail for finding the groove in upwind sailing. With the telltales plastered to the sail by the rain I wasn't receiving the usual visual - and audible - signals from them and was unable to find that sweet spot of sailing high and fast. Note to self: go out and practice in the rain and practice sailing without telltales too.

My other learning was on how to handle the run when the current is running across the course and is strong relative to the wind. I tried the up-current and down-current side of the course when sailing downwind in different races. Big difference. Up equals good. Down equals bad. Coming into the leeward gate in light wind against the current is not a good idea. Very slow. Lost lots of boats.

It was raining as we sailed back to the beach. It was raining as we hauled the boats back to the boat park. It was raining as we derigged the boats. I rolled up my wet sail and put it in the car. It was raining as I drove home from the yacht club. I turned on the CD player and had to laugh at the first song that came on.

There's something sexy about the rain
And sometimes when it's pouring down
I feel her kisses on my skin
I spread my arms and spin around
And let that summer island storm
Hit me like a hurricane
It's like she's right here whispering
There's something sexy about the rain
No, Mr Chesney, you are wrong, there is nothing remotely sexy about the rain.

1 comment:

Litoralis said...

I read somewhere once that a sailing race is like a group of people walking up a down escalator. The one that gets to the top first is the one that stumbles the least number of times.

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