Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wheeze Uck

I apologize for not posting about Sunday's Laser racing earlier.

It was another glorious day for sailing - sunny, temperature in the 60s, once again a gusty, shifty NW wind off the shore that was up and down in strength but was blowing a solid 20 knots in the gusts. Magnificent sailing weather.

Only 34 boats this week - apparently there was some religious significance to the day that might have distorted the judgment of some of the less enthusiastic fleet members about the importance of going sailing every Sunday. (Only 34! How many one design fleets would kill for a turnout like that on their best days?)

The reason for the delay in posting is that my results were mediocre to bad and it's taken me time to think of some suitable excuses for my performance. Note I said excuses not reasons. The difference between an excuse and a reason is that an excuse is based on a cause outside your own control; whereas a reason is something for which you might be held responsible.

For example, "Sorry teacher, I didn't do my homework because I wanted to watch the 2 hour episode of Alias on Wednesday night" is a reason. "The dog ate my homework" is an excuse and thus is infinitely preferable.

It's a good idea after each day's racing to write down in a notebook all the excuses for why you didn't win. That way you can refer back to excuses you used earlier and recycle ones that might apply to your latest miserable effort. Never write down reasons such as "I forgot to check the weather forecast" or "I couldn't hike hard enough because I didn't go to the gym all winter". These are clearly reasons because you could have done something about them but didn't. Focusing on negative factors like that can only lower your self esteem and we all know that self esteem and confidence are essential for boat speed.

I was meaning to post some excuses on Monday about Sunday's racing but the dog ate my excuse book. So I had to think of some new ones.

First of all I blame the race committee. I know the wind was shifty but it seems like every race there was a huge bias towards the pin end of the line with the result that most of the fleet were crowded at that end. So I was just forced to start at the boat end of the line in almost every race.

Now you could say that by starting in a less crowded part of the line, at least I had freedom to tack. That's true but it turned out that most of the gusts were coming out of the left side of the course so it was all the weather's fault that most of the fleet got to the windward mark before me.

Even when I had a good first beat I found out I was losing lots of boats on the runs. There were waves and I was trying to catch a ride on them but other boats seemed to be gaining on me all the time. After racing, the daily winner Andrew Scrivan explained the technique we should have been using.
With the velocity being anywhere between 5 and 20kts, the waves on average, resembled those of 10 kts of breeze. So when we were hit by large blasts of air, the ability to cut through waves, on the down wind was key. When you are trying to pass through a wave down wind you need to find and steer for the small part of the wave to pass through. Much like when sailing in big waves, when you scan your peripheral for the large part of the wave to lock in and ride; now you need to find the smallest part of the wave ahead of you to pass through. Once I saw the area I wanted to shoot for I would trim, head up, and flatten to weather, or bear off, keep the sheet taught and flatten to leeward. When the waves are moving faster than I am I do not steer, play the sheet or roll all that much or repetitively, only when needed. My board was up slightly higher than normal, and U would scoot back as I punched through a wave.
I blame Andrew for not telling me that before racing.

Then I noticed that the foot of my sail was fluttering wildly on the beats. Must be getting old. Why don't they last longer? Blame North Sails.

Talking of getting old, I was definitely flagging by the last two races. Making stupid mistakes, bumping into people. Actually bumping into the same boat twice. I'm sure I wouldn't feel like this if I were 20 years younger. Blame my parents for that. Couldn't you have waited? Women have babies in their late forties all the time these days.

As we are now in daylight saving time we race half an hour longer than when we were on standard time. This means that I have to conserve my energy in order not to get too tired so I'm not able to hike as hard as I really should. I believe I can blame Benjamin Franklin for this problem.

So there you have it. It was the fault of the race committee, the wind, Scrivan, North Sails, my parents and Benjamin Franklin. With all of them conspiring against me, what chance did I have?

Anyway, in the last race I had a good start and a good first beat and was dueling with my buddy Joe up the right side of the course. Suddenly we get a massive lefty wind shift (which we couldn't possibly have seen or predicted of course) and ended up eating a huge header all the way into the mark. Most of the fleet rounded before us and we were never able to catch them. Joe and I had another good battle up the final beat and he crossed the finish line just ahead of me with only a few tail-enders behind us.

Joe laughed and shouted across at me, "We Suck!"

Yes Joe, but I suck more.

Oops - that's almost a reason - bad for self esteem - delete that thought.

I'll be out Lasering again this Sunday. Might need some new excuses. Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Then again, if you were 20 years younger, you'd have missed out on the 33 years with your wife, and very likely not have the grandchild that you dote upon so much. :D

Tillerman said...

True. But I would have all that to look forward to.

No - on second thoughts you are right, I'd rather have the life I have now than the life I had 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

You should skip the first few races. Let everyone else get tired and then clean up during the last few races.

Carol Anne said...

Of course, unlike any other Laser sailor I know, you could also use the excuse that your crew mutinied.

Anonymous said...

Rejoice, any day that one doesn't capsize or break something is a great day.

Tim Coleman said...

Try: the waves were the wrong type. (This is know as a british rail excuse)

or: I got Weed round the centreplate

or: Someone unscewed the flotaton tank hatch and I was taking on water which slowed me up.

Or: its the wife's fault for keeping me awake all night....with her snoring!

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