After a great general recalled start, I struggled for a lane off the line in the second start. A group of 5 boats tacked inexplicably onto port directly in front of me leaving me only one real option: to tack. Upon completing my tack onto port, only one guy was left in the bad air and wake of the committee boat end. I glanced, thought I could cross, and knowing that there was little chance any Newport sailor on my hip would respond to a "room to tack" hail, I pressed my bow down to attempt to get across. My friend on starboard seeing the entire situation develop as I had chose a different option than to tack like I had or crack off slightly and duck, instead smacking my transom about 3 inches from the back. I don't really know why I didn't spin a 720, but perhaps I've had too much of Newport, and Newport sailors blatantly cross without a care in the world as to who was on starboard. I raced on to my worst race of the series, a 45th only to learn that I was under protest when I checked in at the dock.
Sorry. I've been messing with you. I bet you thought that was a story about me sailing in my usual mediocre way in the bottom half of the fleet at Newport last weekend? It could have been. But it's not. The whole paragraph should be in block quotes, and instead of the references to "Newport sailors", substitute "Europeans". Sorry Newport guys -- you're the best.
No, I didn't write it. The story was stolen from here and is an account by Andrew Campbell of one of his races in the recent Laser European Championships in Poland. Andrew Campbell is one of the leading American Laser sailors, winner of the 2005 North Americans and Midwinters East, winner at CORK in 2001 and 2003, and ISAF Youth World Champion in 2002. Like many of the top guys from the Americas and Australasia he knows he has to compete on the highly competitive European Laser circuit if he is ever going to raise his game to the next level, to qualify and medal in the Olympics.
Why did I steal Andrew's story? Well, in a strangely perverse way I found it motivating. It helps when I have a bad day on the water to know that even the top guys have disappointing days too. (Andrew's story is taken from a post titled Bitter Disappointment in Poland.) Even if you are a big fish in a pretty big pond, you can still be humbled when you go and sail against the even bigger fish in the ocean.
But that's the only way to improve: to race against the best. I should remember that.