Since attending the 4 day Laser clinic at SailFit back in March, I've managed to fit in a number of solo practice sessions in Rhode Island. Seven sessions so far in fact.
It makes sense. What's the point in going to a clinic in January or March and learning lots of things I need to improve, and then not working on those issues right away? I have done very little practice in March and April in other years. What was I thinking?
It makes sense. When is the time I really need to practice? Before the sailing season starts. March and April are the time. Spring training, so to speak.
I've been spotted a couple of times by fellow sailors who said that they would really like to join me. I invited them to come with me the next time I went sailing. They had some excuses.
Truth is I'm finding that the best way to practice is on my own. Trying to change my bad habits into good habits is not easy. I need to to focus on one thing at a time and work at doing things a new way. When I sail with somebody else, inevitably we end up doing some kind of informal racing which is not conducive to working on new techniques. Sometimes you have to go slower before you go faster.
Or maybe I'm just an antisocial bastard.
Of course the water is cold this time of year. But I pick my days. I don't go out on my own at this time of year when the wind is over 20 knots. I wear a lifejacket (of course), a drysuit and take a VHF radio with me in case something really bad happens. And I sail on an enclosed harbor in sight of people on shore. And I tell Tillerwoman where I am going and how long I expect to be out. So far so good.
I'm not really planning to die on my Laser. Not just yet anyway.
I'm basically working on about 8 things that Kurt Taulbee pointed out to me at the clinic. I usually work on 3 or 4 of them in each practice session.
A couple of other bloggers have given me food for thought about how to practice...
I'm not quite as organized about my goals as Mark of Slipper Musings seems to be. But I do like his charts and color coding. Check out Process Goals.
And I'm not as much into the Zen of sailing as Jay of Laser Sailing Notes seems to be. But I did like his post about Mindfulness. As Jay says..
The purpose of practice is to develop a habit of awareness, to be able to hold your attention longer and longer on specific details. On the water you will be more mindful of you, your Laser and the wind.And so I spend my days sailing up and down Bristol Harbor and doing practice starts and practice mark roundings and convincing myself that it's all doing some good and that I'm still not too old to learn to sail smarter and faster.
This Year Will Be Different.