Regular readers of this blog will know that my enthusiasm for Laser sailing waxes and wanes. Sometimes I am full of passion for the sport; at other times I can't summon up the energy to go sailing at all. Why is this? Where does the passion come from? What kills it?
In 2007, my move to Rhode Island inspired me to sail many of the local regattas, and all that practice helped me to achieve a long-standing ambition: Semi-respectable Mediocrity at the Laser Masters Worlds that fall.
2008 started with sailing trips to Cabarete and Australia and somewhere I hatched the crazy idea to see if I could sail my Laser 100 days in a year. That goal became such an end in itself that I kind of lost touch with the real reason why I sail. (Clue: 3 letter word beginning with F.) I persisted with my goal through the colder days of October and November, often sailing by myself on the local bays, but eventually had to admit defeat when the first big storms of winter arrived in December with only 94 days logged.
Then I crashed. I almost gave up sailing in 2009. There could have been all sorts of reasons. That dogged persistence in pursuit of the 100 days in 2008 may have killed my passion. One bad day on the water may have turned me off racing. I'm not really sure.
2010 was weird. For some unknown reason I discovered a joy in frostbite racing in the dead of winter, January and February. The snow on the ground, the ice on the buoys, the pain in the fingers when the circulation dies... I decided I Love Winter. But I didn't sail many regattas that year at all and it showed when I went to the Masters Worlds in England and had a pretty disastrous week.
That experience at the Worlds forced me to re-examine my whole attitude to sailing. Why am I doing this? Is it fun any more? Am I really fit enough to go out and sail a windy day of racing on the sea, and then do it again he next day, and the next day? Where's the passion?
This summer I seem to have sorted myself out. I've been sailing a lot in the last few weeks. I have been doing lots of regattas. I have been hanging in there through long windy days on the water and not wimping out early. And, most important of all, I have been having fun. (That important 3-letter word.)
What's different? Why is the passion back?
There are a number of contributing factors, but I think the most important is that I have learned to include a lot of variety in my sailing. Some major regattas where the best local sailors are competing. Some low key regattas where I actually have a chance to win a race or two if I'm lucky. Some club racing. Some group practice sessions. Some informal racing like on Tuesday nights. Some solo practice. Different venues. Different people. Different formats. Different levels of challenge. That seems to be the key for me to keep my interest alive.
One of the first post I wrote in this blog was called Focus. It was all about how you have to concentrate on doing one thing really well if you want to succeed. This post was the first ever to attract a comment, and it was a critical one at that! Someone wrote "horses focus with blinkers so can we, but i want to see the whole world."
Maybe I've been wearing blinkers too much?