Monday, August 23, 2010


Laser sailors practice.

Well, some Laser sailors practice. The top guys do. Actually the top guys call it "training", not practice. Sounds more sporty and professional, I guess.

Some Laser sailors don't practice. They just race with their local club and race at regattas and never practice. Then they beat me anyway. Hmmm.

But I like to practice on my own and with fellow sailors. I count the Tuesday evening informal racing in Bristol Harbor as practice. And I practice on my own to work on all kinds of stuff. Fix faults. Improve my technique. Improve my fitness.

The truth is there is hardly anything I enjoy more than sailing my Laser on my own on some quiet corner of Narraganset Bay on a sunny, windy weekday afternoon when most of my fellow sailors are slaving away in their office cubicles trying to earn enough money so they can retire early and go sailing any time they want. I call it practice. Really it's just fun.

A couple of weeks ago, just after the Buzzards Bay Regatta, I took my Laser down to Fogland Beach and spent the afternoon practicing on the Sakonnet River. I practiced start accelerations and windward mark roundings and leeward mark roundings and tacks and gybes and all that sort of stuff.

Improvement comes slowly. But I think it does come. After BBR I realized that I hadn't experienced any of my usual regatta sailing screw-ups. No getting my feet tangled in the sheet and messing up a tack. No getting the sheet tied up in knots and being unable to bear away at a windward mark. No falling out of the boat during a tack. No unintentional gybes and fouling other boats at leeward marks. No capsizes. No capsizes all weekend! (Except for when I hit that submerged object sailing in after racing on Sunday. But that doesn't count.)

Apologies to my readers if my reports on BBR were not as entertaining as some of my regatta accounts from other years. I know you love to read about my blunders and mishaps.

Maybe I was lucky at BBR? Or maybe all my solo practice in the last few years is paying off?

How do piano players practice? They work on the difficult parts of each passage. They slow it down. They play the same tricky piece over and over again until they have it right. They don't expect to learn to play a piece perfectly in one day; they know that skills develop from day after day after day of persistent practice. Sailing is just the same really.

Laser sailors, "Practice!"


SoxSail said...

Oh Tillerman, you sly dog you. Slipping the little bit about hitting a submerged "object" on the way in from racing. But those of us from Marion, know that you haven't practiced RedRightReturning enough. Almost surely you hit a rock in the bony flats to leeward of Converse point because you cut green can #5 (which admittedly seems much too far from shore.) Don't worry, I've done it too.

Tillerman said...

Absolutely right SoxSail. I should have checked the chart first (or followed the Lasers who knew what they were doing.) But you tend to think that in a Laser you're going to be OK if you are a couple of hundred yards away from the shore.

No permanent harm done. Gave me an "opportunity" to really spruce up my daggerboard while doing the repair.

And I still think Sippican Harbor is a beautiful place to sail. Bony flats or no bony flats!

Baydog said...

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Emily Titesphinker said...

Use your SatNav.

Antolin said...


have you read my latest blog? It has to do exactly with that... I titled it "Tiller Time and a jade knob on my hiking stick", check it out if you have a little free time... be well and like my pottery hero Simon Leach (British guy) says at the end of each of his training videos in yout tube, "keep practicing".

Tillerman said...

Yes Antolin, I read the jade knob post. Great stuff. Keep it coming.

Baydog said...

Knob. I digress.

Tillerman said...


Baydog said...


Frankie said...

Is that you on the photo, the boy in short pants playing piano?

Tillerman said...


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