Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The End

What's the point?

All this Laser racing. I never seem to improve. It's a delusion that I can ever learn to sail smarter or faster.

I looked at the results of the US Laser Masters Nationals at New Bedford a couple of weekends back. Deja vu all over again.

The first major Masters regatta I sailed in the US was the 1990 Nationals at Lavallette in New Jersey. I was tenth in my age group... a mere Apprentice Master (under 45) back then. Folks like Had Brick and Peter Seidenberg took home the trophies. So where was I in the results this year? Tenth in age group again... now an aging Grandmaster (55-65). And Had Brick and Peter Seidenberg were on the podium again.

Zero progress in eighteen years. Why do I bother?

I looked at the names of the sailors ahead of me in the fleet at New Bedford (not just the Grandmasters). I recognized ten of the eleven names immediately above mine. I've been sailing against these guys for two decades. And they've been beating me for two decades. It would be depressing if it weren't so pathetic.

Why do I bother?

Looking on the bright side...
  • I was in the top half of my age group. So that's a good stake in the ground for qualification for future Masters Worlds (through 2013 perhaps) just in case they change the rules. I'm not Unqualified yet.

  • I did discover one major flaw in my technique and have an idea on how to improve it. Maybe I still can sail smarter and faster one day?

  • I did beat that guy in three races. So I wasn't a total bozo in every race. Maybe I can beat him in a regatta at least once this season?

  • And, in spite of everything, it was enormous fun. I don't know why. It just was.

Maybe I won't sell my Laser and buy a rocking chair just yet.


Joe said...

You can't sell the Laser! Who would be my nemesis?

Team Gherkin said...

You said the "F" word... "FUN"!!!

That's why you do it! :D

mal :)

Pat said...

Don't fall for it ... the rocking chair is just a Trojan Horse for the nursing home people. They can't catch you out on the water.

Derek said...

One design dinghy racers are forever falling into the trap of judging regattas based on their results relative to competition. It is very difficult to do otherwise.

However, you have learned something about sailing that people spend years trying to understand. There is nothing better than the feelings that result from true passion and love for the sport. For me, it feels like a childish fun... very natural and pure. The inability to learn this causes so many talented sailors to give up the sport before they reach their peak. Just look at the changes in the US Laser Class after each Olympic Trials.

With that said, never give up. There is always room to improve. Just remember that your improvements do not necessarily need to come in the form of a higher finish or beating "that guy". It could come from greater enjoyment of a regatta by sharing it with Son #1 and/or #2, or by learning another skill in that J30 that your friend from CPYC co-owns.

Enlighten us, what was the flaw in technique that you discovered? I bet many of your readers suffer from the same problem(s).

Carol Anne said...

"And, in spite of everything, it was enormous fun. I don't know why. It just was."

That's your answer right there. When it is no longer fun for me, that's when I'll quit sailing. As long as I am having fun, I'll keep doing it, no matter how poorly I do in competition.

BTW, was that JFK's rocking chair? I notice Teddy's not using it -- he's going sailing.

Team Gherkin said...

You think you've got it tough? Check out THIS photo and story about rhe Chinese Olympic Sailing course!!! Sailing in pure slime! GAGH!
Try sailing your Laser - or anything for that matter, thru that!!!

Mal :)

Anonymous said...

You might be in need of a bit of variety. Your laser skills would make you an awesome tactician on a bigger boat.

Why don't you mix it up a bit and start crewing on a J or a decent PHRF-rated cruiser.

John said...

I just got into the laser last year after many years sailing various dinghy and small keelboat classes. After an ugly start, I am now in my frustratingly normal "mid fleet" mode. The difference is that I am having more fun than I have in years. The Laser is a blast. My only regret is that I didn't find it out decades ago, when many of the guys in my age group did

Andrew said...

This might be a bad idea, but ... how about you and 'that guy' get together train together and move yourselves up the ladder, together - while still having fun of course; you hit that nail firmly on the head! You'd have to find someone else to write about though.

Carol Anne said...

This evening on the television news, I saw footage of the stuff to which mal refers, and it isn't pretty.

Apparently the Olympic sailing area off China has been hit by an algae bloom that makes California kelp look downright harmless. It looks rather much like tons upon tons of boiled spinach, but according to the US Sailing Team members who were interviewed, it smells like dead fish.

Ghastly stuff.

Vigilante said...

I'm having a bad year. Blame it on light winds. I can't quit because I'm older than you are. If I quit, I'll never be able to start up again. And my winds will come back. Besides, the worse day possible on land beats the dickens out of a good time on land.

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