Thursday, November 05, 2009
I (almost) gave up sailing this year.
I probably haven't sailed a dozen times since the beginning of the year. I didn't sail in a "real" race once between 2 Nov 2008 and 1 Nov 2009. This is terrible.
There was a time when I raced on at least 30 weekends every year. Plus some major regattas like a North Americans or CORK in the summer. Plus a major regatta somewhere warm in the off-season like a Sunfish Worlds or a Laser Master Worlds or a Midwinters. In 2008 I sailed on 94 days.
I wasn't just a casual sailor. I was a fanatical racing sailor. So what happened?
I have no idea. But here are some reasons that might go some way to explaining why I (almost) gave up sailing this year.
1. Family. My two grandchildren are fascinating little people. I am the only grandfather they have. I barely remember my own grandfathers; one died before I was born and the single memory I have of the other is of being taken to see him in his bed, probably during his final illness. I want my own grandkids to have better memories of me than that. More than that, I treasure every moment I can spend enjoying their company and watching them change and grow. They came to see us almost every weekend this summer and it always seemed the right choice to play with them rather than to go sailing.
And yet, there were lots of other days when I could have gone sailing but didn't...
2. No BHAG. The last couple of years I have set myself Big Hairy Audacious Goals for my sailing. In 2007 it was to finish in the top half of the Laser Masters World Championship. (I did it.) In 2008 it was to sail on at least 100 days. (I failed.) In 2009 I didn't have a BHAG to drive me.
But if that's the only reason I sail it's pretty pathetic, isn't it?
3. Burnout. As I mentioned in 2008 I sailed on 94 days in my failed attempt to sail on 100 days in the year. It was fun. It motivated me to sail more and I had some fabulous days on the water. Was it too much? Am I burnt out from too much sailing last year? Maybe.
But surely that can't explain why I (almost) gave up sailing altogether?
4. Community. If I think back to many of the years when I sailed a lot it was partly because I was part of a club, a community, and part of the motivation to sail was to go and have fun with all my friends at the club and to hang out with them afterwards over beer and pizza or whatever. I haven't really established the same strong links to the local sailing community since moving to Rhode Island.
This is entirely my own fault. I need to fix it.
5. One bad experience. Can one bad experience of sailing turn you sour on the sport? You wouldn't think so. But I think my racing on the first day of frostbiting last winter did dull my appetite for racing for a while. Pretty much everything went wrong that day. The wind was nasty and shifty and gusty and chopped-up with vicious slam-dunk headers. There was a huge turnout of sailors on a short course so the start line was too crowded, the mark roundings were too crowded and there was way too much bad-tempered shouting as we played bumper-boats. I tried to make the best of it and write it off as a learning experience but I think it planted a seed deep in my mind that keeps reminding me that racing isn't always fun; sometimes it's just plain frustrating and annoying.
But surely all the hundreds of memories of good days on the race-course would outweigh that one bad day? You would think so.
6. Paralysis by analysis. I have way too much information about the weather. I can see the wind on the bay from my window. I can check multiple websites for real-time wind information and weather forecasts. Uh oh - it's gusting 35 knots at Conimicut Light. Uh oh - the wind is dying in Bristol. Uh oh - the wind in Newport is forecast to die away this afternoon. Too many days I convinced myself that it wasn't a good day for sailing today. So I didn't sail.
7. Too much time. This will sound nuts, I know. But back in the day when I worked for a living I only had certain days I could sail. If I had planned to go frostbiting in Connecticut on Sunday, I went. Never mind if the weather forecast called for rain or snow or no wind or too much wind, I went anyway. It would probably be the only chance I had to sail that week so I went.
Now I'm retired I can sail almost any day I want. So I look at the weather and think maybe tomorrow will be a better day for sailing. But we all know the problem with tomorrow: it never comes.
Yes, I told you it would sound nuts. But I'm just trying to be honest about what went wrong this year.
8. I'm getting old. It's true. Now I'm in my 60's I don't have the same appetite for sailing on days when it's blowing over 30 knots or the temperature is under 30 degrees F. I don't have the same stamina I used to. It takes me longer to recover from a day of vigorous exercise than it used to.
But even so, if that explains why I skipped some days of frostbiting, it doesn't explain why I skipped every day after the first week. It doesn't explain why I hardly sailed all summer.
9. I'm a wimp. Probably
10. All of the above. I think the truth of the matter is that one of these reasons by itself wouldn't have been enough to (almost) turn me off sailing this year. Sailing is part of my identity. None of these things, by themselves, could destroy my love of sailing.
But cumulatively, taken together, I think these factors did (almost) cause me to give up sailing this year.
That's a scary thought.
But recognizing the problem is the first step in fixing it.
I need to fix it.
Posted by Tillerman at 5:42 AM