I was asking a few days ago what kind of remarks would be successful in disrupting the concentration or focus of a competitor in a sailboat race. This weekend I discovered the answer: almost anything.
Friday on Buzzards Bay. I beat Litoralis by half a dozen places in the 3-leg windward-leeward-windward first race and life is good. In the second race perhaps I am fading a bit and he, having the advantage of me in age by a few decades and in weight by at least as many pounds, arrives at the first windward mark a few places in front of me.
So I start working the waves downwind like some 17-year-old Radial sailor possessed by demons. Doing my best Ben Ainslie impression, carving turns up and down, pumping on every wave. I'm catching him up and life is still good.
As I surf past him I think of what I should say to him. Don't want to be a smart ass. Needs to be something that sounds positive and encouraging in a fatherly way but there's no harm if it also gives me a little mental edge too. Ha. I've got it.
"You know this is a five leg race, right?" Just passing on information that the race committee changed the course board between races. He might have missed it. Just being a good Dad.
"You know this is a five leg race, right?" Ah, but what if he thought it was still the shorter course we sailed in race one? Maybe he hung it all out on the first beat in an attempt to beat poor old Dad? Maybe he thinks there is only one more beat after this downwind leg? What's it going to do to his head if he finds out that he actually has two more beats and one more run to do? Might be demoralizing perhaps? Could make him concede the lead in our personal tussle? Maybe.
So I say it. "You know this is a five leg race, right?"
His reply sounds something like, "What? WHAT? Wooooaaaaa! Aaaaaarrrghhh! SPLASH! Splutter, splutter, splutter," as he death-rolls his Laser and I carry on down the run a-pumping and a-rocking and a-rolling.
I love it when a plan comes together.