Thursday, July 13, 2006

And The Winner Is...

I didn't exactly set up my questions about a sailor's "edge" as a competition. But if I had, the winner would be the wise and insightful comments from Zen, who chose to make an analogy with martial arts training.

But first let me clarify the question as it appears that I confused at least one commenter. By "edge" I mean the advantage that a good sailor in a particular racing class has over average sailors in that class. It might be boat speed, better boat-handling, superb timing on the start line, or all of the above. Anyone who has spent any time in a one-design class knows that there are some sailors who have that "edge" and others who don't. Of course it's all relative. I have an edge, an advantage over the other sailors in my home fleet; but when I go to major regattas as I did last weekend I find many sailors whose edges are sharper than mine.

The question was how to hone and maintain that edge. Is it better to stick to one class of racing boat or spend time doing various kinds of sailing in a variety of boats?

Interestingly the answers were all over the map. Hydroceano wrote that diversifying my boating activities "would be like asking Hemingway to write fan blogs about Buffy the Vampire." Hmmm -- what an image that conjures up! Might be a good challenge for a writing contest. And several commenters agreed with OG that variety is the spice of life.

But Zen took a middle view between the two extremes with these thoughts based on his martial arts experience...

We train with several different weapons to know different "feels" and energy of it is applied. However there is "one" weapon that becomes you. Though you play with others there is one that is yours. Depending on much you toy with the other main gets better if you do not abandon it. You do not give it up you just expand your experiences and it sometime makes you better, because SOME things which are to that other weapon's experience and therefore new can be adapted to raise your main weapon skill level.

Or another way, Doing Tai Chi, helps improve one's Shaolin style.

However... they must be kept as separate minds

Cross training can be effective to understand weak and strong points of another style. All is not Yang or Yin, both contain elements of the other. To understand one better, the other must be experienced.

Eric Twiname who wrote Sail, Race and Win, the best all-time book on self-coaching for sailboat racing, would have agreed with Zen. Twiname lists "swapping boats and classes" as one of his twelve ways of learning. Quoting Gary Hoyt's Go for the Gold, he says that "each class emphasizes some particular skill, and if you learn that class you will have learned that particular skill better than anyone who has not sailed that class."

I especially like Zen's opinion that "there is 'one' weapon that becomes you." In the subtitle of this blog I unconsciously defined myself as "a Laser sailor", not as a guy who sails Lasers a lot and sometimes sails other boats.

Has my weapon become me?


Zen said...

Wahooooo, I won, I won, sweet! yeah baby yeah.

er... so.. uh, what did I win???

Margaritas, Tillerwoman's homemade tabouleh, Bottle of Merlot, puffy shirt, a years subcription to The World according to Tillerman, Tillerman's Handbook on 101 things about sailing you were too afraid to ask, MC-T-man's music to Laser by CD ??

Tillerman said...

How about a cup holder for your boat made from duct tape?

Zen said...

Nice !

Anonymous said...

Does he get to choose the color of the duct tape to match Zen's decor???

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