I don't mean I didn't know the answer. There are a lot of questions about sailing that I don't know the answers to. Questions like... "How is it possible to sail faster dead downwind than the wind?" or "Why does the US Olympic team not win more medals?" or "Why did they get rid of Rule 17.2?" These questions are, in theory, answerable and somebody knows the answers - I assume. But the question I was asked totally stumped me because it did not compute, it was like one of those impossible paradoxes such as, "Which came first the chicken or the egg?"
But first let me digress and give you the background.
I have been sailing my new RS Aero quite a lot in the last few days. Mainly because I am entered in the first RS Aero Regatta in North America east of the Continental Divide tomorrow and I still have no idea how to sail the boat properly.
A couple of days at the lake it has been very windy - about 18 mph with 30 mph gusts and shifts up to 90 degrees. These are not the ideal conditions to learn how to sail a new dinghy. To be honest on those days I have mainly concentrated on keeping the long carbon pointy thing in the air and not in the water. But man, when you take off in an RS Aero on a reach in a 30 mph gust, you are really flying. And on those windy days, although I wasn't sailing very well, I consoled myself with the thought that which does not kill me makes me stronger, as the famous German Laser coach Friedrich Nietzsche once told me.
The other two days the winds were around 10mph so it was possible to work on boat-handling skills and boat-speed and all that other stuff that coaches call "training" and I call "having fun in the boat." One day I mainly worked on tacking and was starting to do something a bit more like a proper tack instead of my original method of "push the tiller over and pray." The other day of medium wind I sailed up and downwind with a Laser and another Aero which was great for working out things like whether to go high or low upwind and what angles were fast downwind.
And I am so pleased that I have two friends with Aeros on the same lake. We are all learning from each other and passing on little tips and tricks we discover. Everything from how not to break the outhaul (oops) to the optimum position to sit in the boat downwind.
All good stuff.
I am not really ready to sail this baby in a regatta yet but I am having fun, and that's what it's all about, right?
So what was this impossible question?
It was, "So do you like your Aero better than your Laser?"
I was nonplussed.
The question didn't make sense to me.
OK. I know we ask questions like this about consumer products all the time. Do you like your Audi better than your Subaru? Do you prefer Smuttynose IPA to Bud Lite? Did you like The Graduate better than Honey I Shrunk the Kids?
All good questions. All easy to answer.
But a boat, at least a single-handed sailing dinghy, is not like any other consumer product. Not to me anyway. It's almost like a living thing. It's an integral part of who I am and how I have fun. It's a lifestyle. It's a community, or at least the way into a community. And that's all about the people you meet and the friends you make.
The Aero and the Laser offer different sailing experiences and entries into two different communities. Different opportunities to sail in different places. But I couldn't possibly say I like one more than the other. Not the way I feel right now, anyway.
You might as well ask me which of my sons is my favorite as question whether I like my Aero better than my Laser. The question is meaningless and impossible to me.
So I fudged the answer…
"I refuse to draw comparisons. I really enjoy having two boats. End of story."
Am I strange?
If you have more than one boat do you feel the same way?