Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Doctor

Stuart Walker is a brilliant sailor. Soling World Champion. First American to win the International 14's Prince of Wales trophy. He is also a prolific sailing author. I own many of his books.

I have read these books. Cover to cover. Several times. However, I have remembered very little of what I have read.

They are not an easy read. Dr Walker is a brilliant sailor but his writing style is often...how shall I say it kindly... turgid. He uses words, like turgid, that most of us don't used in everyday speech. He sometimes writes long sentences. He uses long words and technical language that he assumes we all know. You have to work quite hard to extract the essential message from every paragraph.

Don't get me wrong. There's a lot of good stuff in his books. I dare say that if I could absorb everything he is trying to tell me I would be a far better sailor.

So I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going to translate a chapter from one of Dr Walker's books into a blog post. Paraphrase it into more simple language so that I can understand the basic message... and maybe remember it. Perhaps others may read the post and learn something too.

In fact I think I'm going to do this exercise about once a week. It will be a series. Let's see... Andrew Campbell already has Monday Morning Tactician. Joe Rouse has the much-imitated Fish on Fridays. So my new series will be Walker's Words of Wisdom on Wednesdays.

First instalment tomorrow on Big Fleets and Small Fleets.


bonnie said...

Pardon totally off topic comment but BOY did you pick a nice state to move to. Who had this idea to put great big salt water ponds right next to the ocean so that there's a perfect place to paddle in every condition short of a hurricane? Effin' BRILLIANT, people!

Although I still don't know about this clam chowder sans cream.

Tillerman said...

Hi bonnie - you're not posting on your own blog but you're leaving a comment here? Are you paddling around here somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Awesome idea. I look forward to reading the first post.

Anonymous said...

I've spent many HOURS trying to parse a single example in Positioning. The numbers just don't make sense. My only conclusion was that Stu was using a boat in his example that sailed closer to the wind on one tack than on the other.

Reality may have some oddities like that, but as an example, was that really necessary or instructional?

I stopped reading after getting bogged down in what should've been a simple example of an obvious principle.

Anonymous said...

That's Walker for you. Just when it's starting to make sense, then it doesn't again.

Tim Coleman said...

I have some of his books and yes they are good but I know what you mean. I look foward to your summary of his stuff.

One of the best books I have read on racing dinghies was Eric Twiname's 'Start to win'. I think its out of print now but it is a classic, really easy to understand with pictures and diagrams. Get hold of a copy if you can.

bonnie said...

well somehow I was gone for 3 days, worked my tail off beforehand to clear things off, and yet somehow I found about 9 days worth of work waiting for me upon my return from the Point Judith area. All due, like, yesterday. I stopped by to say hi while taking a short break.

We paddled Block Island Sound for 2 days, Ninigret Pond for one that was a little iffy, and did some hiking. Way too short a time there.

Tillerman said...

Ah yes Tim, Start to Win is a classic.

Even better IMHO is Twiname's Sail, Race and Win, a unique text on how to coach yourself to win. If I could keep only one book SR&W would be the one. I think I've mentioned it here before.

Anonymous said...

When I raced Lasers actively (a long time ago) I used to keep Walker's Tactics... on my bedside table during the winter off-season. I'd try to read a chapter/situation a night...and usually I'd fall asleep before I finished.

But sometime during the following summer, in the thick of a race, I'd make a smart decision or a move that seemed to come out of nowhere. Later I'd realize that it was Walker. My brain had actually soaked up and processed his thinking, filing it away for future use.

Bear with the guy...I've read many books on tactics and strategy and nobody...nobody...is in his league.

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