Monday, December 27, 2010

Twelve Drummers Drumming

2010 was a strange year for me: so many of my sailing adventures had unforeseen outcomes. What might have been expected to be highs turned out to be disappointments; but then, to compensate, rewarding experiences were found in unpredictable places.

Since moving to Rhode Island in 2007 I had only dabbled in the local Laser frostbiting scene. But then in January and February, in the depths of a cold New England winter, I suddenly uncovered a masochistic streak of enthusiasm for sailing in the chilliest of weathers, and found myself loving it. The wind chill was in the teens on the day that I decided that I Love Winter, and I found I could even laugh about the day I got Brain Freeze. What's wrong with me? Am I Strange?

In the last thirty years I've raced my Laser at every level from local regattas to world championships, but some of the most fun I've had in Laser racing was this summer with the small group that does informal racing on Tuesday evenings in Bristol Harbor. Sometimes I surprised myself and had some good races as in The Rabbit and the Old Dog; sometimes I learned something (or re-learned something I had somehow forgotten) as in Work; and other times I was just reminded again that when all is said and done... Laser Sailing is Fun.

I didn't sail many regattas this summer, but I think the one in which I had the most fun was the classic Buzzards Bay Regatta. I have serious doubts about my fitness for sailing in heavy air these days, but on each of the two windy days at BBR I found my results improving from race to race. I guess it's all about Stamina.

When you write a blog almost every day you never know which posts are going to click with readers. And I was certainly puzzled one day in September when people who were almost complete strangers to me were coming up with broad grins on their faces and congratulating me on that day's blog post. What? I hadn't even written a post that day. I finally discovered that Scuttlebutt had republished a post I had written a week or so before called Irish Coffee, which seemed to have tickled the funny bones of some of my fellow sailors.

And then there were the sailing experiences where disaster struck. The day when a potentially beautiful day for sailing was spoiled because one of the tiniest components on my boat broke: Keyed. The day I was stranded in the middle of the Sakonnet River when my mast broke: Broken. And the day when what is usually one of my favorite regattas, the New England Laser Masters, was ruined for me when my brand new mast Bent. Laser sailing is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get.

Sadly, I suspect I will remember 2010 for a sailing experience which should have been a high point but which turned out to be a huge disappointment. Due to a combination of illness and my lack of preparation, the Laser Masters Worlds at Hayling Island ended up being a god-awful misadventure for me. The whole sad story is at Half a World. It was a real wake-up call for me and made me face some tough questions...

At the age of 62 am I committed enough to Laser racing to put in the necessary effort to train properly for major regattas in strong winds and big waves on the open sea? Or do I reconcile myself to being a puddle sailor for the rest of my sailing career? We will see...

So there you have twelve posts that are a sample of the ups and downs of my sailing adventures this year. But there is one more surprise that I haven't written about yet. Earlier this month I went back to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI, where my wife and I had enjoyed a vacation last year. And something happened there which certainly surprised me and which was a culmination of something I have been striving for, on and off, with little success before, for all of my thirty years of sailing.

But that's another story for another day...


Sam Chapin said...

Just a ltittle bit ago I was looking through my blogs for my ten best of the year, and yours reminds me of mine September 11, 2010. The Rev. Robert Fulghum's quote "In any occasion in life, any thing can happen. The great bana peel of existance is always on the floor somewhere. Not only that, but anything can go right. Sometimes the unexpected is an unforgettable moment that transforms it to memorable. The seetest memories are seldom the result of planning. Whatever happens, work it in."

Tillerman said...

Good thoughts Sam. Looking forward to seeing your post on the 10 (or 12) best posts of the year.

JP said...

Very good 12 posts.

For some reason my eye was caught by the broken & bent mast episodes, and the half world one, but its been another consistently good year of posting!

ChrisP said...

Did you know that slipping on banana peel is a euphemism? I learned the other day that the fruit was a music hall reference to the other slippery substance that used to cover the streets of cities when all transport was horse-drawn.

PeconicPuffin said...

Two things:

1. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
2. I windsurf in big waves and wild seas with a gentle fellow who turns 67 next summer ("the Wolf"). In all seriousness, go for it.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Puffin. Oh yes, I know there are many old geezers in their 60's, 70's and even 80's who can put the young 'uns to shame in many sports, including sailing, windsurfing and running. The question is whether I have the commitment to stay fit enough as I get older to be one of those geezers.

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