Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Buffalo Sailor

Check out Peter Huston's blog Buffalo Niagara Sailing. It is rapidly developing into one of the more interesting reads in this small world of sailing blogs. In the past week he has written an account of his personal experiences watching Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Nick Scandone sailing in his younger days; a long post about encouraging participation in sailing (with a promise to write more on this subject that will make some people mad at him); and Monday's post on junior sailing where he describes the Optimist as a dorky boat.

The article about Scandone stirred a memory of something I read years ago about how to practice sailing. Huston reports that although Scandone was a prototypical laid-back California dude, he took his preparation for the 1991 470 US Nationals very seriously.
For several weeks prior to this regatta, there was almost no wind. Yet, every single day, Nick went out sailing. Many of us, myself included, kept asking him if he was getting any real value from this sailing. Nick just smiled and kept sailing, or rather, floating around, literally for weeks on end.
Scandone then went on to win the regatta by a "staggering amount". I should be more like that. My attitude to practice is way too casual. I tend to wait for one of those perfect sailing days -- blue skies, sunshine, 70-80 degrees, 10-15 knots -- and then I might go out and practice. Of course, that severely limits the number of days I actually do any practice.

The advice that I had read somewhere of which Huston's article reminded me was: if conditions are such that a typical race committee would actually hold some races then you should go out and practice. Only 3-5 knots? Practice light air sailing. Blowing koalas off tree? Practice heavy air sailing. 95 degrees and as humid as Dennis Conner's armpit? So what? 20 degrees and freezing rain? Those masochists at Cedar Point would be racing.

So that's one of my 2006 resolutions: Set up a practice schedule and then go out and practice if a race committee would choose to race in those conditions. Thanks Peter for reminding me.

I don't always agree with Huston -- for example, he seems to have an aversion to folk who don't use their real name on the Internet (like me) -- but that's OK. I agree with some parts of his post on junior sailing -- kids do need more exciting rides as they get older -- but I think he has only scratched the surface in his proposed solution. Maybe I'll write more on this on another day.

Huston is clearly committed to using his blog to help sailing grow and thrive in his region. I wish him success in this endeavor. And look forward to seeing how he is going to keep his promise to make me mad at him.


EVK4 said...

regarding using your real name on the internet; it is a silly thing to do. I believe that if I write something, I should have my name behind. Consequently, I don't make it hard to figure out who I am from my blog.

But the last thing in the world I want is for someone to google me and find out something I've written since most people googling me are doing so for work-related reasons. Find some press releases, good, find out my feelings on sailing in Koala-weather, no.

BTW, you were the 5000th visitor to my blog, I know your city and the link you came in on but you're pretty well concealed beyond that.

Tillerman said...

I think we're on the same wavelength. There's more than enough information in my blog for someone to find out who I am if they really want to. And at least a couple of people who know me personally have discovered my blog accidentally and immediately recognized me. But I prefer not to plaster my real name across the blog or the real names of the people I meet sailing.

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