This morning I discovered an anonymous comment in my spam folder that must have been made a couple of weeks ago on my post Greece? Belarus?. That post drew attention to the relatively low ranking of the USA in the ISAF World Sailing Fleet Racing Rankings. If the comment is genuine (and I have no reason to believe it is not) it represents an informed, but perhaps controversial, critique of the state of US Laser sailing. Rather than letting it be lost in the comments to a three-week-old post, I thought it worthwhile to repost it here.
Just remember these are not my observations. Don't shoot the messenger!
Having raced many Laser sailors from the US in both the US and elsewhere in the world I have an opinion on why the US considering its size has no depth of talent at least in the Laser class.
To put it simply many US sailors think they are far better than they actually are and the further down the fleet you go the lazier and more self entitled they seem to get. They usually do mainly gym work to the exclusion of actual sailing and they usually lack skills on the water.
I find some US sailors satisfying to race against because they seem to have the attitude that they should always be further to the front of the fleet than they usually are and when they are are being passed downwind etc they cuss and do some really stupid things for eg, taking you up to weather to the point that they ruin their own race, and allowing you to slide past in the process. It never seems to occur to them how that thin weedy looking dude from FRA could be faster than an American.
You have or had guys like Ross and his blog as one good example. It is considered bad form in the US to say to someone that you suck and your dreams will be forever that, just dreams.
There is not enough clear feedback to some, that they need to do a lot of work to do well, I do not say win, just do well. Years of training and learning how to put together a regatta. One guy I raced against from the US who no longer sails Lasers actually got to go the Olympics representing another country even though he could not even finish in the top 10 in a local district event out of only 60 boats. He used to walk around the boat park earlier on, in his team gear as if he was some top elite sailor and then proceed to have his ass handed to him by local club sailors.
The top US Laser guys are very good sailors but they appear to lack that extra thing you require to win. Not simply a desperation to win but an all encompassing understanding that winning is only possible if you have done all the work and are prepared to push yourself to the point of breaking 4-5 days a week for years.
On rereading what I wrote I will say that many US sailors particularly those on the circuit are a pleasure to race against but you do have a large number of Laser guys that seem to struggle with the whole concept that world is a big place and there are plenty of sailors they may never have run across before that are more than equal to the best the US has.