But first let me clarify the question as it appears that I confused at least one commenter. By "edge" I mean the advantage that a good sailor in a particular racing class has over average sailors in that class. It might be boat speed, better boat-handling, superb timing on the start line, or all of the above. Anyone who has spent any time in a one-design class knows that there are some sailors who have that "edge" and others who don't. Of course it's all relative. I have an edge, an advantage over the other sailors in my home fleet; but when I go to major regattas as I did last weekend I find many sailors whose edges are sharper than mine.
The question was how to hone and maintain that edge. Is it better to stick to one class of racing boat or spend time doing various kinds of sailing in a variety of boats?
Interestingly the answers were all over the map. Hydroceano wrote that diversifying my boating activities "would be like asking Hemingway to write fan blogs about Buffy the Vampire." Hmmm -- what an image that conjures up! Might be a good challenge for a writing contest. And several commenters agreed with OG that variety is the spice of life.
But Zen took a middle view between the two extremes with these thoughts based on his martial arts experience...
We train with several different weapons to know different "feels" and energy of it is applied. However there is "one" weapon that becomes you. Though you play with others there is one that is yours. Depending on much you toy with the other main gets better if you do not abandon it. You do not give it up you just expand your experiences and it sometime makes you better, because SOME things which are to that other weapon's experience and therefore new can be adapted to raise your main weapon skill level.Eric Twiname who wrote Sail, Race and Win, the best all-time book on self-coaching for sailboat racing, would have agreed with Zen. Twiname lists "swapping boats and classes" as one of his twelve ways of learning. Quoting Gary Hoyt's Go for the Gold, he says that "each class emphasizes some particular skill, and if you learn that class you will have learned that particular skill better than anyone who has not sailed that class."
Or another way, Doing Tai Chi, helps improve one's Shaolin style.
However... they must be kept as separate minds
Cross training can be effective to understand weak and strong points of another style. All is not Yang or Yin, both contain elements of the other. To understand one better, the other must be experienced.
I especially like Zen's opinion that "there is 'one' weapon that becomes you." In the subtitle of this blog I unconsciously defined myself as "a Laser sailor", not as a guy who sails Lasers a lot and sometimes sails other boats.
Has my weapon become me?