Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bad News Good News

Captain JP asked a great question today: Are bad posts good?

His point is that the most popular post on his blog recently was about his Worst Ever Race. Apparently people love to read about others' misfortunes. I've had a similar experience. No -- I never tried racing a triple-reefed Topper in a Force 2 wind. What I mean is that on this blog too, the most widely read recent post was the one where I was whining about the Uncrustables in a regatta lunch. Folk apparently love a good negative story, especially if it bashes some poor, overworked, volunteer regatta-organizer.

I guess we shouldn't be too surprised. Check out your major newspaper or TV news program. It's the bad news that makes the headlines. And the talk shows are full of politicians rubbishing the performance of your country's selfless, dedicated, masterly government leaders.

I've done a lot of whining about regatta organizers and race committees lately. I do feel guilty about writing so much negative stuff. My only excuses are that I do also write about my own screw-ups in various capacities, and one can only hope that talking about other people's mistakes will make us all better sailors, race committee staff, sailing club leaders, sailing instructors, or purveyors of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for hungry sailors. No. Scrub that last one.

So to change to a more positive tone, let's give credit to a race committee that knows how to do things right. Check out the account of how Malletts Bay Boat Club managed to record the finishes of the 2007 US Laser Nationals accurately and post them so quickly to the web. It's a story of attention to detail, superb organization and planning, practice, well-designed processes, delegation, intelligent use of technology, and commitment to excellence.

Congratulations to Malletts Bay. Other RCs please note. It can be done.

6 comments:

Frankie said...

as you know I don't run a sailing blog as such but like to visit yours once in a while. I have news: threefoldtwenty.blogspot.com is going to be published in printed form via blurb.com

Anonymous said...

Good coverage like that seems to be increasingly common which is fantastic for sailing fans like us! I have seen it in classes ranging from singlehanded boats like the Opti, Sunfish and Laser to the big AC class boats. Remember the days when we had to wait months to get a class bulletin that *MIGHT* contain the regatta results you were looking for?

Scuttleblog said...

Scuttlebutt scans the blog world for interesting stories, and found the Uncrustable story to be too prime to pass on. However, the key to the story was that it spoke to a large audience. It was humorous, and discussed a subject that we have all faced. Keep up the great commentary!

turinas said...

When I first started my blog I used to spend way too much time figuring what would be good. It took me a while to realize that I just write or post what interested me and what seemed worth sharing. The mighty Zen (http://zensekai2.wordpress.com/) summed it up: "Bloggers write to share" He is a wise man.

Brian said...

Woah, Nellie!

Hold your horses on the praise for MBBC. Or at least let me qualify it for you.

The organization by the volunteers was outstanding, and yes, they managed to post results in something approaching real-time.

Saying, however, that the RC at the 2007 US Laser/Radial/4.7 Nationals "knows how to do things right" is stretching reality.

The RC itself made a number of foulups, strategic and tactical, running the event on the water. They attempted to run races when there was virtually (and actually) no wind. They hamstrung themselves with choice of racing area on the outer bay. They abandoned a perfectly good race. They did not abandon a race when the wind died, leading to 50% (or more) of the fleet scored TLE. They didn't set starting lines square to the current wind (off 20 degrees at least, and "blamed" the fleet for being "over-anxious" in their press release).

Generally, off the water, things were well organized. My only complaint about the off-the-water is a common theme these days - a host club does not want to inconvenience their members to hold the regatta. Competitors were forced to park their cars about an eighth of a mile away from the club. Members had parking on-site. Frankly, it seemed that with a bit better organization, all of the cars would've fit at the club. But seeing those signs every morning as I lugged food, water, every possible piece of clothing I might need, etc, etc, etc past those signs saying "MBBC Member Parking Only" really stuck in my craw.

Point: Yes, MBBC did a lot of things right. There was a single glaring off-the-water problem. But the on-the-water RC should NOT be held high. It made some serious mistakes.

Al Russell said...

MBBC had a drop off circle open all day and every day so racers could avoid lugging gear the 1/8th of a mile, plus food and water was always available free, both on and offshore. So it's hard to imagine a need to carry some water, unless you didn't like Disani?

I agree the TLE's were unfortunate for many in one race, but the racers who finished 30 minutes earlier had enough breeze, and once one finishes the option to abandon is gone. Etc.

The members lost 1/2 of their parking spaces, and had priority on the other 1/2. All I can say about that is that they do own the place, unlike Kingston or Fort Adams, etc.

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