Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Do Top Sailors Have Hairy Ears?

I read a lot of blogs and books and watch a lot of videos about sailboat racing.

To be honest, I don't often come across a tip or piece of advice which is totally new and that I haven't heard, in some form, before.

But I did learn something totally new today in this US Sailing Team Sperry (USSTS) video about Brad Funk.

"I make sure that now I don't shave the hairs in my ears. So now they are super long because I can feel the wind shifts better. It's for real... I am going to let these suckers grow so I know when to tack."

The good bit starts at about 1:40.


Mark and Cindy - s/v Cream Puff said...

And here I am thinking the hair is coming out my ears was because it was having trouble getting through my scalp.


Mark and Cindy
s/v Cream Puff

Tillerman said...

LOL Mark. I think I suffer from that scalp hair blockage issue too.

And congratulations on your excellent blog. I recommend my other readers to go and check it out.

I must admit I was very surprised to read about the role of ear hair in spotting shifts. I am sure I read somewhere that Dennis Conner used to shave the back of his neck before an important race because he thought a BARE neck was better at feeling shifts than a HAIRY neck. Why is ear hair different from neck hair?

This whole subject merits more research.

What about leg hair?

And chest hair?

And back hair? (Just asking for a friend.)

Tweezerman said...

I remember reading about a Russian Olympian, I think it was Valentin Mankin, who said he could see the wind like a rainbow. Between using my lobe hair or seeing a rainbow (I really don't have either skill - that's why I punt it on shifts many times), I think I would choose seeing a rainbow. Mankin never said what color lifts and headers were though.

Tillerman said...


I always suspected that top sailors had some superpowers to see the wind better than us mere mortals.

Maybe I should just buy a compass?

Alden Smith said...

NZ has a very gifted sailor, Peter Burling, who it is said 'feels' the changes in air pressure. This uncanny ability has won him and his crew world champs in a number of different classes and he is now Team NZ Americas Cup Challenges new Helmsman.

Tillerman said...

I think there's some element of truth in my "superpowers" theory.

I once asked one of the very good sailors on the New Jersey Sunfish circuit how the best sailor on that circuit managed to win so often. The answer was that he had an uncanny ability to see or feel what the wind was doing.

I suspect the sailors who have this gift can't really explain what it is they see differently from us average sailors. It's almost instinctive. A "feel" thing rather than a process of careful observation and logical analysis.

My eyesight isn't so good these days as it was when I was younger. If letting the hair in my ears grow will help, then I'm up for it.

Anonymous said...

Ear hairs may not be the answer.
Brad and his partner didn't do well in the 49er Worlds last week and I doubt that they will be representing the US in the Olympics.


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