Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Inconsistently Good

A few years ago I went on a 5 day clinic with Kolius Sailing Schools. I learned a lot of good stuff from John Kolius and his team but one particular comment by one of the coaches has stuck in my mind. She said, "You have to be inconsistently good before you can be consistently good."

What did she mean? We all start as back-of-the fleet racers and over the years gradually improve. But our results don't improve consistently at first. Before we are good enough to expect to be in the top 3 at every regatta we sail we have to go through that stage of being inconsistently good. Good days and bad days. Moments of glory separated by long periods of total mediocrity.

"Inconsistently good" just about sums up my
year. Last Sunday was a great example. Probably the best start and best first beat of my sailing career. Followed by a gear breakdown and then some very average races where I struggled to make the top 20 in the fleet of 50+ Lasers. And that has been the pattern over the year. The highlights were winning an open Laser regatta for the first time; winning my age group at the Laser Masters Atlantic Coasts; and placing in the top 25% at the Laser Masters US Nationals. The worst performance was probably at the New England Laser Masters and everything else was somewhere in between.

Looking beyond results I also take pride in starting a new Laser fleet, writing a sailing blog for over 6 months, introducing another whole group of kids to our sport, being a competent race officer and publishing another year's worth of my club's sailing newsletter.

So it's time to step back and think what I want to achieve next year. How do I turn "inconsistently good" into "consistently good"? And what sailing challenges outside of racing shall I look for?

I'm sure part of the answer is in one of the first posts I made in this blog.


the skip said...

Find I go through periods of massive information gathering, sorting, analysing then applying cycles. Not usually till the last stage that the "consistently good" starts appearing (not that I have reached your level of sucesses as of yet, have more "inconsistently good" to go first ). Think this winter will be gathering and sorting cycle!.

Plotting race notes has really been a big help to me this year. Helped me analyse each part of the race and as I plotted it. Helped really point out areas that need work and also where I was doing things right.

Hey if a 5 year old can do it, surely you and I can manage to focus!

Anonymous said...

I crew many boats, but mostly GP14's. I am an improving crew thanks to my brill helm. Then its spinnaker time and I turn into a crap crew- well most of the time, sometimes the spinnaker works and flies beautifully and when this happens I feel like I have achieved something! Then disater strikes and the spinnaker decides to play up- it gets twisted, it won't go up, it goes under the boat and flies out the back (god I hate when that happens!)etc and it makes me feel like a crap crew- i've noticed it only plays up when its very windy! (sometimes I wonder why I sail GP's but what would I do if I didn't- sailings just too addictive!) Its like 1 step forward and 2 steps back, and I know its my fault really that the spinnaker isn't doing what it should but it is so annoying when it goes wrong. So this winter I've told my helm that we are going to have the spinnker up at any posibble moment that we can when racing, in order for me to improve- well I have only been sailing spinnaker boats for about a year, and the feelings great when you actually achieve something!

Claire (England)

the skip said...

Came from many years of white sail as well and this is my first year with a spinnaker as well. It does get better. Our spinnaker did the same thing many times. Have you tried bearing off more before launching or sheeting in tight quickly when you launch? Not sure about the GP 14, but on our boat pre-feeding different amounts in different wind conditions helps make sure the kite gets enough air in it.

This year, for me, was all about "taming the beast". Took a season but think we finally have it under control! Good luck with the spinnaker.

Tillerman said...

Claire, Skip - You guys have my admiration. Having done most of my sailing on Lasers and Sunfish, on the rare occasion when I do crew on a spinnaker boat I seem to cause a disaster every time I touch the beast.

Sounds like I would need a season of practice to get the hang of it?

EVK4 said...

Start on a sprit boat; it's more like a big jib. My first race on a J105 they put me on foredeck it's so easy.

Now, dealing with a pole and gybing is a whole different story. I admire what those guys do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice Skip, i'll tell my helm and we can have a go at it. Just seen the weather forecast for this sunday and it's windy- I can't wait!

Claire (England)

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