Thursday, November 16, 2006

Worth Doing Badly

I suspect that almost everyone in the world interested in sailing has by now seen the video of Ham-It-Up! Capri 25 Sailing Round Down, an absolutely hilarious film of a crew at the Capri 25 2006 Nationals demonstrating a broach, an unintentional gybe, a man (actually woman) overboard, and all sorts of other good clean mayhem and total incompetence.

It was featured on Sailing Anarchy and picked up by various sailing blogs. Of course the know-it-all armchair sailors on the Sailing Anarchy Forum were all over it, ranting about the numerous mistakes made by this crew, insulting their intelligence, and making various derogatory comments about the physical attributes of certain crew members. (Since when was there a rule that said that people with over-developed buttocks can't go sailing?)

One has to wonder about the motivation of Mr Hammett in making this video available to the world. Is he proud that his team survived these events with nothing worse than wounded pride? Or is it some twisted form of self-deprecating humor (an art form that is occasionally attempted by the writer of this blog)?

Personally I like to think that the video is a celebration of G.K.Chesterton's famous paradox: If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. Most of us that love sailing know what that means. I know that I am not immune from making a few mistakes every time I set foot on a boat. I know I sail badly (or at least far from perfectly) but I still think it's worth doing.

And some of us are not afraid to tell the world about our botched up sailing attempts. Two of my favorite sailing bloggers, Carol Anne at Five O'Clock Somewhere and Edward at EVK4 Bloglet, write blogs that are so fascinating partly because they do not shy away from sharing with us their bad sailing experiences as well as their good days. Bravo to both of you. (But I'd love to see the videos too!)

But what about you? Would you go sailing today if your own inexperience, or unfamiliarity with the boat, or crew shortcomings, or weather conditions mean that you are probably likely to sail less than perfectly? Do you challenge yourself to try new things in sailing, knowing that at least initially you will be making plenty of mistakes?

In other words... is sailing so worth doing that it's worth doing badly?


EVK4 said...

As requested:
Tactician Training

video home of the worst tack of all time

Litoralis said...

Having sailed a Star with a relatively inexperienced skipper for the past couple of years, I think I can comfortably say that I would go sailing today if inexperience, or unfamiliarity with the boat, or crew shortcomings, or weather conditions mean that we are probably likely to sail less than perfectly. In the Star we managed to break a mast, explode a vang car and foul everyone in the fleet at some point; but we got better and now we are mostly competent.

JP said...

Great video!

One of my highlights this year was broaching a 45 footer in the solent. Its the best way to learn.

However the crew were less appreciative.

EVK4 said...

My crew is mostly rule of thumb is not to go out if I can't singlehand the boat back home. It makes people much more relaxed if they know that I'll get us home if things get hairy.

Pat said...

Carol Anne comments quite frequently on how badly I do things but we still have a good time... and I'm (gradually) learning.

Mondale said...

Sailing is worth doing at any available moment. it doesn't matter about the mistakes, that's how you learn.
I recall an incident a couple of summers ago when late one night (after a few drinkettes) three of us (and the dog) decided to get up super early the next day and take the Wayfarer from Hickling to Thurne to meet some friends for breakfast.

We were on the water by 5am, we battled light headwinds for four hours only to arrive at our friend's moorings to find that they had gone to the beach- the previous day!
We turned back, this time running and reaching in front of a significant weather system down the might River Thurne. We got back to Hickling Broad in about 70 minutes. The dog has not been the same since.

No breakfast and some bloody hard work, tremendous fun and some tales to tell.

bonnie said...

If it was all about perfection, how would anybody ever learn to sail in the first place?

Tim Coleman said...

The only consideration to make is one of safety. Not that you can, or ever should, eliminate risk (where would the fun be in it otherwise?).

Taking inexperianced people on the water is always a risk and I take care not to put people off sailing through a bad experiance. Mind you sometimes it works the other way.

A friend from work badgered me to take him and another friend sailing in my old Merlin Rocket. So I did. We just got out into the channel of the Fleet and a squall blew up. I dropped the main we roared back to the landing under jib alone in really hairy conditions. The next week my friend went and bought a second hand Albacore and asked me if I would give him and his wife some sailing lessons. I guess he got the bug.

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