Continuing my series of posts based on questions in Jay Livingston's thought-provoking Should I Race My Laser again Next Year? ...
After asking us to think about what gave us the most fun in sailing this year and what skills we improved this year, Jay moves on to the subject of physical fitness...
I want to stay in shape. I enjoy all the things I can do when I’m in good health and my body is ready to handle a bit of physical activity. That’s why I choose the Laser; it sails better when I’m in shape. For me being aware of the upcoming physical challenge drives me in the winter when I find it hardest to do conditioning.
Were you physically ready to sail last spring? Would you enjoy being in better shape this coming spring? (The key word here is “better” not perfect. A bump up of 10 or 20% can make a major difference.) Getting the boat upright, hiking and even rigging and launching are easier and safer when you’re in better shape.
Hmmm. That's one of the reasons I sail the Laser too: it's a motivation to stay in shape. But it's clear from my pathetic performance at the first and last days of the Laser Masters Worlds this year, that I haven't been taking physical fitness seriously enough. If I had been fitter I would have sailed better in heavy air. If I had been fitter I would have been able to sail both races on those two days instead of being totally exhausted after the first race on each day.
The Words of Wisdom from the daily winner at the Newport Laser Frostbite Fleet a couple of weekends ago, Brian Fisher, reinforce the need for physical fitness in Laser sailing...
Q: You seem to hop in and out of the Laser and still perform at a high level when you're sailing. In general, after not being in the boat for a long time, how do you go about getting back into the groove? What's your routine for re-acquainting yourself with the boat to the degree that you can compete in Fleet 413?
A: I have been jumping in and out of the frostbiting fleet for the past 10 years or so with varying results. Last year after a dismal performance at the windy Fat Boys regatta I decided that I didn’t want to sail the Laser any more at that level. Without proper physical preparation and at least some practice, I was not getting any better. I paid for a program from Annapolis Sailing Fitness and worked hard all last winter on getting stronger for the Laser. This summer I sailed 5 regattas starting with the ACC’s in Sayville. I also practiced 5 or 6 days including an afternoon with Shope and Ferg. The result of this effort is that I am now able to sail within striking distance of the leaders, and it is a lot more fun.
That's exactly I how I feel about my "dismal performance" at the Worlds. I don't want to sail another Masters Worlds if that's the best I can do. My anger at myself has been a motivation to work harder this winter on raising my fitness up to a level where I can compete in major Laser regattas on the heavy wind days -- or at least not wimp out after only one race. As Brian says, if you have the fitness "it is a lot more fun."
And it's all about having fun, right?