Monday, January 04, 2010

Looking Back at the Noughties

Leaving aside the question as to whether 2010 is the first year of a new decade or the last year of an old one, I thought it would be fun to look back on the highs (such as they are) of my sailing life over the last ten years... the decade of the "noughties".

2000 was a year of many highlights.

My first Laser Masters Worlds... in Cancun, Mexico in March. Glorious weather. Sailing right off the beach in front of the hotel. Sunburned knees (resolved to buy longer hiking pants). Won an argument about signal flags with Russell Coutts' brother.

The Sunfish 50th anniversary celebrations in Newport in September. Nearly killed in a lightning storm on Saturday. Awesome race round Jamestown Island on Sunday.

But perhaps the highlight of the year was a Laser regatta on a little puddle in Pennsylvania (Marsh Creek) which I came so close to winning. It was mine to win or lose going into the final race. Did I choke? Or was it the thumb cramps that did me in? I ended up tied for first place but lost it on the tiebreaker.

2001. Who will ever forget this year? Our little town in New Jersey lost two of its citizens on September 11, both of them as it happens parents of kids in our junior sailing program.

I sailed my Laser at CORK, did Laser frostbiting almost every Sunday in the fall, and took my bride to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI in December. But perhaps the most memorable regatta was the New England Sunfish Masters at Sprite Island YC on the weekend after September 11. There was an a capella choir singing God Bless America on the beach before we sailed, and at the skippers' meeting we observed a moment of silence to remember good friends who would sail with us no more.

2002. February saw me hitting the road to sail two Laser Masters regattas in Florida with a few days in between at Rick White's place in the Florida Keys. After a summer of racing Sunfish and Lasers up and down the east coast it was the Laser Masters Worlds in Hyannis in September, and then back to frostbiting at Cedar Point YC in Connecticut in the fall. Highlight of the year: winning the Ironman award at CPYC for being stubborn enough (or dumb enough) to sail more frostbite races than any other fleet member that season.

2003. This year I shifted my home sailing base to a different New Jersey lake, Spruce Run, the home of
Hunterdon Sailing Club and won their club handicap regatta, the Commodore's Cup, and later in the year traveled to Spain to sail in the Laser Masters Worlds in Cadiz.

But perhaps the highlight of the year was the opportunity to take on the job of head sailing instructor at Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club in New Jersey. I had a wonderful (and exhausting) summer teaching a great bunch of kids to sail in Optimists and Laser.

2004. Won the HSC Commodore's Cup again and their Open Fleet series. Qualified as a US Sailing Level 2 Coach. Ran the Lake Hopatcong YC junior sailing program again. Skied a lot. Did a lot of frostbite sailing. Trained for a marathon. Phew. Where did I find the energy?

2005. Started a sailing blog. Wonder what happened to it?

Ran my first marathon, attended a Rick White sailing seminar in the Florida Keys, sailed in the Laser US Nationals in Wrightsville Beach and the US Laser Masters in Annapolis and the Laser Atlantic Coasts in Brant Beach, started a Laser fleet and a new Laser regatta at Hunterdon SC, and taught the kids sailing at Lake Hopatcong again. Was First Grandmaster in the Atlantic Coasts and won the HSC Laser Regatta. Phew again.

There is absolutely no doubt about the highlight of the year: Sunday 27 November 2005, the day I became a grandfather. It changed my life.

2006. Ran another marathon and sold my Sunfish (the end of an era.) Most of my Laser sailing this year was club sailing with HSC in the summer and frostbiting at CPYC in the spring and fall.

Highlight of the year was a return to where I had learned to sail about 25 years before, the trip in October to Minorca Sailing in the Med. I did a lot of Lasering but also took some classes in sailing other types of dinghies and even learned to windsurf!

2007. In January I took my first trip to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic for a Laser clinic and the Caribbean Midwinters. In April I ran the London Marathon and in May we moved into our new home in Rhode Island. The summer was a blur of Laser regattas around southern New England including the Laser North Americans in Hyannis. Then off to Roses in Spain for another Laser Masters Worlds.

A great year of sailing but perhaps the highlight was finally, finally, finally achieving my ambition of finishing in the top half of the fleet at a Laser Masters Worlds. Semi-respectable mediocrity at last.

2008. Another trip to Cabarete in January, training with Kurt Taulbee in Florida in March, winning a Laser regatta in Massachusetts in July, and welcoming my first grandson to the world a week later. What a year.

I sailed my Laser on 94 days in 2008 but the sailing highlight of the year has to be the trip to Australia in February for the Laser Masters Worlds in Terrigal, just up the coast from Sydney. My results weren't anything to write home about but, in the middle of the racing on the last day I reflected on my blessings...

  • I'm in Australia in the middle of the northern hemisphere winter.

  • The sun is shining and the sky is blue without a cloud in sight.

  • I'm sailing on the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific! (For a kid who grew up in a grimy working class town in middle England, the idea that one day I would sail on the Pacific Ocean was about as likely as that I would land on the moon.)

  • The wind is perfect, the waves are challenging but manageable. Champagne sailing conditions.

  • I have my health and fitness and can still play this game even at my age.

  • I'm surrounded by the best bunch of guys on the planet, the other globe-trotting Laser grandmaster zealots.

. The last year of the noughties. I didn't sail much this year. Almost gave up sailing in fact. There's no doubt that the sailing highlight of the year was the trip to Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI in December. Lasering, snorkeling, rum, kayaking, cat sailing, rum, hiking, swimming, yoga, more rum... and the highlight of that trip was... well, I haven't written that post yet. Maybe tomorrow.

How were the noughties for you?


EscapeVelocity said...

The 00s actually include practically all of the sailing I've done in my life--I don't remember exactly how many times I went sailing in the 20th century but I'm pretty sure it's a single-digit number. So it was a good decade.

Zen said...

WoW, Blogfather, that was your most brilliant post ever! How do you do it? It was awesome!

JP said...

Sounds like a good decade especially the grandfather bit.

Good idea for a blog post - might add it to the list if get time.

Particularly liked the list of reflections you had in that Australian race. Life rushes past so fast we must remember:

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare"

Or sail and stare, but you know what I mean.

Capt. Puffy Pants said...

2008 was my favorite noughty year, not necessarily the sheet around the neck though. The beautiful Australian February weather sounds really nice right now.

O Docker said...

Tillerman, have you recorded every detail of your life in a spreadsheet?

I can't remember what I did last month, let alone ten years ago. I think it's better that way.

Except when I clean out the refrigerator.

Carol Anne said...

Even before I read this, I had an idea of doing something similar. In my case, the 00s cover nearly my entire sailing life -- Pat and I first took sailing lessons in the waning days of 1999. My, how far we've come.

Stand by for something at Five O'Clock Somewhere.

Tillerman said...

O Docker. Are you suggesting that I'm anal-retentive?

No. I haven't entered every detail of my life in a spreadsheet. But I do have several records that assisted in the preparation of this post...

a) Running diaries. I do keep a record of my training runs and races in a diary every year. For no particular reason I also took to noting down where I sailed any regattas or races in the same diaries. I have kept all these diaries and they were the primary source for this post.

b) My trophies. I've thrown a lot of sailing trophies away over the years but I do have a shelf full in my home office. So it's easy to see what year I won the Ironman or was first Atlantic Coast Grandmaster for example.

c) I do try and keep notes of sailing races... what worked, what didn't, what I need to improve etc. For some reason I'm not very conscientious about this and these notes are incomplete and spread randomly over several different notebooks. I didn't consult any of these to write this post.

d) For 5 years I've written a sailing blog. You might have come across it by chance? That was a pretty good source too.

Ok. I might be a little anal-retentive.

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