Monday, October 23, 2006

Fat Boy

"So much effort to go so slow."

That was the put-down about Laser sailing that I heard at lunch one day in Menorca. The guy dissing Laser sailors was a somewhat overweight guy who had been sailing in the advanced asymmetric group all week. We had started chatting over a beer one lunchtime and when I told him that I was in the Laser group that was his response.

Hmmm. I suppose he has a point. The Laser is a boat that demands a fair degree of athleticism if you want to sail it well and, judging by the Portsmouth Yardstick handicap ratings, most of the asymmetric classes at Menorca Sailing are nominally faster than a Laser. At this point in the holiday I haven't yet tried out any of the asymmetrics so I have to assume that the comment is correct.

I'm not sure at first whether to be annoyed or proud. I'm sure my obese friend means the observation to communicate his superiority in choosing to sail a boat that goes a little faster with a lot less work. On the other hand, one reason I choose to sail a Laser is that I actually enjoy the physical demands of the boat and maintaining the fitness level that is required to sail the boat well.

I look again at my drinking companion. Hmmm, this guy is seriously overweight. Reminds me of the fat boy in our class at school. Probably couldn't sail a Laser even if he wanted to. You don't see many overweight people racing Lasers regularly even thought there is an annual regatta in Bristol, Rhode Island called Fat Boys.

Wonder what this guy does for a living? Being British we haven't yet asked the question that Americans would ask in the first ten seconds of an encounter with a stranger, "What do you do?" Brits don't do that. Poor guy has a face that just drips with arrogance and contempt. Probably can't help it but that's just the way he looks. Supercilious. I can just see him in one of those old-fashioned judge's wigs. Do they still wear them in British courts? Yeah that's it, he must be a judge. I can just imagine myself quaking in my shoes in the dock as he wags his finger at me and in a solemn voice pronounces, "You have been found guilty of the despicable crime of sailing a slow boat. I sentence you to thirty years of penal servitude. Bailiff take him away."

I snap out of my daydream. Geeze, this beer is stronger than I thought.

Out on the racecourse that afternoon it's blowing 20-25 knots with gusts in the 30's. The asymmetrics start 3 minutes before the Lasers but by the end of the first lap I'm catching up with the tailenders of the asymmetric fleet. Man, it feels good to be sailing a Laser in this weather. On the second lap I catch up with Fat Boy sailing an RS Vareo near the end of the second reach. He's struggling to keep the boat flat in the gusts and he hasn't even dared to hoist the spinnaker. He broaches and almost capsizes. Another gust and he's over. Ha.

He's wallowing in the water like a neoprene-clad blubbery whale. Shall I say it? Would it be rude? Ah, what the hell. As I scoot past him I shout out loud enough to be heard over the wind and the waves...

"So much effort to go so slow."


13 comments:

joe "lasers are ok" rouse said...

I guess he wouldn't sail a Finn either....they are made for "Fat" boys. I don't understand why there are sailors who insist on putting down other boats. It's all about having fun....even if you have a cup holder on your boat. ;)

bonnie said...

I don't usually fish for comments but I said something to Dan Kim today that I'd love to get some little-boat sailor enthusiast input on...


"http://www.haloscan.com/comments/bonniefrogma/116156670030796190/#510315">over here
!

And cup holders are just groovy when you're drifting down some adorable, peaceful little river (I'm thinking of North Carolina, or the Manistee Peninsula).

bonnie said...

hm...

anyways. It's with the last day of my 2006 Adirondack season picture.

AdriftAtSea said...

Hey Bonnie-

Dinghy sailing is definitely a good way to get an accellerated education in how to sail. Sail trim and boat balance is much more responsive and reactive on a sailing dinghy, like Tillerman's beloved Laser, and you're forced to learn how to respond, where a keelboat or larger multihull will tend to forgive the mistakes a bit more.

Dinghy sailing also requires a certain level of fitness, as they're far more physical than sailing a big keelboat in some ways. Hiking out, switching sides, etc, are all much faster paced, especially in higher winds, where the keelboats are much more stable.

I've sailed little boats, mainly Sunfish, but like my Telstar way too much to ever go back for any extended period of time.

Tillerman said...

Bonnie - it sounds as if you have plenty of experience of crewing on a large sailing boat, so sailing a small dinghy would certainly be a way to learn more about sailing. In line withe the comment from Joe "Lasers are OK" Rouse, I would not argue that one kind of sailing is better than another. Part of the beauty of our sport (like kayaking too I suspect) is that there are so many different kinds of sailing boats and they all stress somehwat different skills and provide different experiences.

Vive la difference!

Turinas said...

RS Vareos are for sissies. Actually I sailed one for a week at Sunsail in Turkey and preferred the laser. You need a lot of weight to keep that bloody thing balanced. They are heavy buggers. Nearly broke my bloody back. In your honor I will post a nice pic of the missus in a laser at Colonna, Antigua this summer.

Carol Anne said...

Let's see ...

This guy was, um, on the heavy side.

He was in a boat that was also on the heavy side.

You were in a boat that wasn't heavy, and you weren't heavy, and doing good things in that boat meant that you had to be active and athletic, especially if conditions were brisk.

And you beat him.

More power to you.

BTW, as far as I know, I have the only Etchells in North America with a cup holder.

the skip said...

Dinghy sailing is by far the hardest and most physical sailing. It can teach you the most about sailing, balance and small changes that make a difference.

If you can master and sail dinghy you can pretty much sail anything!

Still think I should pick up a laser and take it out occasionally to hone the skills!

AdriftAtSea said...

Carol Anne- I hope that cupholder is gimballed... Otherwise you're definitely gonna spill your drink

Pat said...

Well, she doesn't have a real cupholder. There used to be a compass attached to the console, and the "cup holder" is what's left of the compass mount. And, it doesn't really work as a cup holder in any sort of heel.

ab said...

That's a beautiful story! brought a tear to my eye...

Jackzinn said...

I've sailed with those "fat boys of Bristol County". Slow is not a word that comes to mind. Pretty smart group as well. 170765

Tillerman said...

I know who you mean Jack and have observed their transoms many times.

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