OK. Technically Damian, of the Final Beat is no longer an Optimist sailor. But he did write a couple of weeks ago a (typically) excellent post about the British 1988 Optimist Selection Trials in which he raced along with Iain Percy and (the now late) Andrew Simpson.
And 2015 Damian passed on words of wisdom about what 12-year-old 1988 Damian learned at this event.
There was something about ferrets.
There was something about ferrets.
But the thing that really caught my attention was this…
One of the main things I learned was that
it is worth finishing every race,
especially in breezy conditions.
Oh, man, Isn't that so true?
I have been very bad at following this golden rule in recent years.
I have become lazy.
I have become a quitter.
For example, I quit early and skipped the last race of the first day at the 2010 Laser Masters Worlds. Actually I skipped the last race of the day three times that week, and skipped another whole day of racing. Not good.
Last year I called it a day before the last few races of the day at the 2014 Newport Regatta.
And those are only two example of many.
I have even got into the habit of quitting early at local fleet racing at Duxbury and Tuesday night practices in Bristol.
"Habit" is the right word. A bad habit.
I have invented excuses… I'm getting older… I have a bad back… I'm not fit enough… I'm only doing this for fun etc. etc. etc.
I even devised a self-serving "philosophy" complete with crappy chart to justify my laziness.
But Damian is right.
You should sail every race especially in windier conditions.
Why finish every race?
1. Sailors' high is one reason. I think it's much the same thing that runners call "runners' high." It's that amazing buzz you feel when you push yourself hard at a regatta and lay it all out in the final race of a long windy day. I wrote about such a race at the 2008 Buzzards Bay Regatta in Cannabinoid Moment. The last race of the first day of the 2011 Hyannis Regatta was another example - Lawn Mower Guy Goes Sailing. I used to get high that way pretty often in the old days.
2. The personal satisfaction of completing what you started is a second reason.
3. And then even a blind squirrel finds a nut some days.
Or to put it another way, if you hang in there for every race and work hard right up to the finish of the last race, once in a while even a mediocre sailor like me can go home with some silverware. Or even better… a towel. It happened on the day at the 2008 New England Laser Masters which I wrote about at Not Throwing in the Towel.
Let me finish by quoting some advice on this topic from blog reader SoxSail which he wrote in a comment to a post titled Stamina in which I tried to justify why I didn't sail in the fourth and final race of the Saturday at the Buzzards Bay Regatta back in 2010 using the usual pathetic range of excuses… I had "put it all on the line" in the third race… I was "exhausted"… I would only be "hacking round the course" in the fourth race… blah, blah, blah.
Here is what my wise reader said...
I think you are overestimating your competition, and possibly underestimating yourself. The other guys don't run half marathons and probably hit the wall after race 1.5. You might have been tired, and not raced as well in that 4th race, but I bet there would have been tons of others who would have done even worse. Not to mention automatically beating all the other guys who wimped out early. No disrespect, but I think you should have raced, and that you would have done well.
So this year it will all be different.
I won't be a quitter.
Laser sailors finish every race.