Some random thoughts about this whole process of goals in sailing...
Why do we have them? How to state them? What good are they?
Last year I had a goal to "finish in the top half of my fleet at the Laser Masters World Championships." Very specific. Very measurable. But not much good by itself. What am I supposed to do with a goal like that? It talks about an outcome that I can't control. It all depends on how good the other sailors at the regatta are, and whether the weather and wave conditions suit me or not... all variables outside my control. If it inspired me to take some other actions like fix some faults in my technique, improve my racing skills through competing at more events locally, practice more, achieve the best target body weight, improve my fitness etc. etc. then it would be of some value. But by itself it is worthless.
As it was, I achieved that objective at the 2007 Worlds in Spain in October but failed at the 2008 Worlds in Australia in February. So what does that prove? I dunno.
This year my primary sailing goal is to do 100 days of Lasering between Jan 1 and Dec 31. Something that's very much in my control. Every day when I get up I can choose whether to go sailing or not. If I don't make it to 100 I have only myself to blame.
Of course the hidden agenda is that I am hoping that my sailing skills and my racing performance will improve if I spend significantly spend more days on the water in my Laser than I ever have in my life before. Still that Type-A personality who always wants to do better. Still hoping for some positive impact on the outcome of the races I enter.
But how I choose to achieve the 100 days is completely open. Maybe I will spend a whole day out on the bay. Or maybe I will just fit in an hour or so of practice one evening. Maybe I will travel to sailing resorts, or go to regattas abroad, or sign up for a couple of clinics. Or race lots of local regattas. Or go frostbiting. Maybe I will sail with some friends or just go out for an afternoon and practice on my own. Or all of the above. Actually "all of the above" is exactly what I am doing.
It's a bit of an experiment. If I sail a Laser 100 days in 2008 will I achieve better results in races in 2009? I don't know. We will see.
So how is it going?
At the beginning of the year I had a rough plan that I would sail 40 days in the six colder months of the year Jan/Feb/Mar and Oct/Nov/Dec and 60 days in the warmer six middle months. That would require six or seven days a month in the colder months and ten days a month in the warmer months. Seemed doable.
I figured I would get a running start on the year by going to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic for a clinic and a regatta in January, to Australia for the Masters Worlds in February, and to Florida for a clinic in March. But somehow since then things have slipped a bit. I hoped to be at 40 days by the end of May but I only made it to 33.
So what to do? Adjust of course. I will need to sail more days a month than I had planned in June, July, August and September in order to catch up. That's one of the values of a goal, so you can make adjustments along the way if you're not on track to achieve your goal. I just have to sail more days this summer. It's a hard life but somebody's got to do it.