Thursday, June 12, 2014
If you want to improve as a sailboat racer should you train with the best sailors you can (even if they are much better than you) or with sailors who are about the same standard as yourself? Which will help you the most?
I didn't sail at all in February, March or April, but I've been sailing my Laser two or three times a week in May and June. I was pretty rusty after a three month layoff, so I see all the time on the water right now as (somewhat belated) spring training.
I've done a few solo sessions.
I've raced with local Laser fleets a couple of times, six to eight boats each time with the top four or five sailors being about my standard or a little better.
And I've had a number of practice sessions with one or two other sailors. In every one of these sessions the constant factor has been my friend who is a much better sailor than me. Way better. Like one of the best Laser sailors in the world of our age.
I've enjoyed all these formats and I feel like I'm improving. Getting fitter. Smoother boat-handling. Going faster.
But I'm wondering what kind of training partners give the most benefit.
Should you always train with the best partner you can find? Someone who will really stretch you. Someone who is the best example to copy. Even if sometimes the challenge is to not let him extend his lead from ten boat lengths to fifteen boat lengths on a short windward leeward course?
Or do you improve faster working with people of your own standard or only a little better? Does the possibility that you might actually beat all these people in a short practice race motivate you to try harder? Or do you sometimes get fat, dumb and happy (and lazy) when the racing isn't quite so challenging? Do you even pick up bad habits from training with people who aren't really any better than yourself?
I really don't know the answer. In any case, even if I did know the answer, I'm not about to turn down any opportunity to go sailing with some friends.
What do you think?
What kind of training partners help you improve the most?