Wednesday, August 23, 2006


A number of readers have expressed confusion over why my current sailing ambitions have caused me to rethink the future of Proper Course. So let me try and explain...

As I start my training program leading up to the 2007 Laser Masters Worlds I want to keep a training log, a daily journal of training activity, racing, progress made, lessons learned, notes for further training needs and so on. Should this be a blog? Or a private journal?

If my training journal is a public blog will I be inhibited from writing in it everything that I would write in a private journal? Innermost thoughts about how the training is going, details of what's happening to my body, mistakes made on the race course. Do I want to share everything with the world?

And if I write all this stuff in a blog will it be remotely interesting to anyone except myself and perhaps a handful of other Laser fanatics? Do you want to hear about the color of my pee after a long day on the water in hot humid conditions? Or tune in to a couple of Laser sailors debating the length of their vang tail and how many handles it should have and whether to tie off the end and, if so, where?

And if I do write a blog about a Laser campaign such as ab is doing with Split Tacks then what should I do about Proper Course? Proper Course and the personality of its writer have been described by various readers as funny, sunny, completely insane, casual, twisted... It's true. I do try to write it in a way that will be entertaining to a general sailing audience.

So if I use Proper Course to write a blog about my training will the change in style be fair to the regular readers? How would you feel if The Onion suddenly turned into the New York Times? Or Dilbert.Blog morphed into Freakonomics? Not that I am putting my little old blog in the same league as those publications, by any means. I'm just saying that a blog develops a certain style and it seems wrong to make an abrupt change from frivolity to seriousness, from broad to specific, from casual to intense.

But why not have the best of both worlds? Have two blogs, one more focused, serious training blog and keep Proper Course going as a more humorous, off-beat look at the sailing world and my own foolishness? Or sticking with the theme I discussed in my Sailing Magazine post, why not just throw it all into one magazine blog -- introspective training posts, nonsense writing, curious stories from the sailing world, wild sailing videos, self-deprecating stories about my own sailing screw-ups and so on?

Well, I'm not sure I want to write two blogs. I probably spend way too long at this blogging game already when I should be out sailing. And I'm not sure if I can simultaneously write blog posts about my own training on one hand and off-beat funny stories about sailing on the other. What I write in Proper Course is often the end-result of ideas and thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for the previous day or two. Would I become hopelessly schizophrenic if I were trying to be serious about my training and build up my confidence with positive self-talk while at the same time always looking to see the whacky, funny side of things? Can you be a joker and a winner?

For example, when I'm out racing and things start to go wrong, am I going to be thinking, "OK -- calm down -- put it behind you -- concentrate on the rest of the race," like a serious sailor should. Or am I going to be thinking, "Ha ha - what a crazy thing to happen - now how can I make that even more funny when I write it up in the blog on Monday?"

Does any of that make sense to you? Do you understand why I'm reconsidering where this whole blogging thing fits into my life?


the skip said...

Think you should keep a private journal. No pressure to be funny, creative, etc. that way. Focus on your goal. You are probably your most harshest critic.

Although I personally would like to know "occasionally" how you are doing! So some form of blog might be in order. maybe more of a periodical, or monthly update. You can publish some of your selected journal entries.

Just a thought! To me the mindset and mental prepararation is not given enough weight in blogs to date.

Whatever your choice go for it! But Keep your head in the game!

Pat said...

Agree. Suggest if you get too busy you have a trusted team member release updates to the blog-o-verse.

Also, there's the semi-paranoid competitive angle; do you want potential competitors to be studying your training methods, self-doubts, techniques that you've targeted for improvement, etc., with you showing them yours but them not showing you theirs?

Of course, maybe you WANT them to see the wacky side -- and not the serious side -- of your life.

Yes, you have to have a sense of humor in this world and especially out on the racecourse, where you only have partial control, as best, of what happens out there.

Anonymous said...

I think you should keep a private journal as well, but an occassional post to Proper Course, would probably be welcomed, as many of your readers, myself included, are going to want to follow your progress and keep track of what is going on with your quest for Laser Mastery.

Even though I have no personal desire to sail a Laser... I'd be interested in hearing about your races and tactics in them. Your training regimen would also be something that alot of your readers would probably find an interest in. Getting into proper shape for competitve sailing is something all of us should be doing. Even if we're just out rounding the buoys for the fun of it.

Anonymous said...

Tillerman, you are a gentleman, a scholar and one hell of a lot of fun to read. While it would be a loss to those of us who look forward to your lively observations with eager anticipation, I wish you every success in pursuing your admirable goals. At the end of the day, it's a short life and you and I both know it's a lot more enjoyable filled with actual sailing than writing about such.

However you decide to handle your schedule, I hope you'll keep in touch and keep us loyal readers posted.

Katinka said...

Your blog is whatever you want to make's a very organic process. It can and should change and to reflect your needs/intentions.

So if not always cracking a joke or writing as often is what you need to do, then don't worry about it.

Readers will generally come back because they get to know and like the author, as well as for the informative aspects of what is written.

In this case, even a reader who never sailed anything other than a plastic boat in a bathtub, such as myself, enjoys browsing your site.

ps( Good luck with the Laser Masters Worlds!! :)

Fred said...

Adriftatsea has said it all. Give us a glimpse sometimes. Me being interested how you keep the will to keep fit. I am lazy in this department and every tip is welcomed.
Now, that reminds me about the sunshine outside. Have to take the bike for a ride. Otherwise....
smooth sailing. Manfred

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