Monday, June 16, 2008


"I believe you may be delusional," wrote an anonymous commenter here a few months ago.

I'm beginning to believe that he or she may be correct. In my profile over there on the sidebar I wrote that, "Even though I am rapidly approaching 60 years of age, I suffer under the delusion that it is not too late to discover how to sail smarter and faster." It was meant to be a joke. But maybe it really is a delusion?

This weekend I sailed in the Saltmarsh Trophy also known as the Championship of Buzzard’s Bay. I had high hopes of a decent result. After all in the last few months I have...
  • attended a racing clinic in the Dominican Republic
  • attended a racing clinic in Florida
  • raced in the Laser Masters World Championship in Australia
  • raced in the Caribbean Midwinters
  • raced in a couple of local regattas
  • practiced on my own 16 times in the last couple of months
  • sailed 37 days this year.
However, on Saturday my racing performance was awful. I was consistently awful. In every single race my upwind speed was lacking, I always rounded the windward mark about three quarters of the way down the fleet, and I was never able to improve on that position. Awful.

But every day on the water is a learning experience, right? So what did I learn?

  1. Solo practice does nothing for your boatspeed.

  2. Beer and pizza and hanging out with friends after racing is often more fun than the racing. Actually it's usually more fun than the racing these days.

  3. I believe I may be delusional.

Oh yeah, there was one other important lesson. After racing I was chatting with a bunch of other Masters sailors and someone mentioned the sudden death last week of Tim Russert at the age of 58. Everyone in the group was around that age or older. After we all agreed how shocking and sad the news was the oldest guy in the group said, "And you know what the lesson is? Sail as much as possible while you still can."

How true.


Anonymous said...

May the delusion persist...

BTW -Must've been an imposter anonymous.

Anonymous said...

These are words to live by. Especially the pizza and beer bit. I am struggling to get my ass on the water. I did manage to play my first game of rugby in 28 years and on adjacent field to my 16 year old playing in a High School tournament. That was fun and more so that most of the players I was up against had not been born the last time I played. I put on a solid but not-embarrassing performance.

Pat said...

Are perhaps Laser sailors, more than most, prone to get stuck on trying to improve their sailing all alone? I'm getting more and more convinced that going it alone is the slow way and that we really need to seek out other sailors to sail and tune together, look at each other's trim and settings, make the sailing more realistic, and discipline ourselves a bit. Any sailing is good, but I guess the mostly mellow, not-so-focused solo stuff needs to be balanced with sailing with others who can give us some sort of framework and gauge.

Another question: When you go to a clinic or a coach by yourself and then come home, how to you maintain, preserve, and build upon what you learned? Would it be different if you attended the clinic or coaching with a couple of tuning partners and pushed each other afterward to not forget what you learned, but instead improve upon what you learned?

Of course, the logistics aren't always easy. And, any sailing is better than sitting around on the beach waiting for someone to show up to sail with you.

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