Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Navel Gazing

Continuing the navel-gazing that I started in Reflections with more questions to myself from Jay Livingston's post Should I Race My Laser again Next Year? ....

In Reflections, Jay's questions were all about what was fun about Laser sailing this year. He then moves on to ask, "What core skills did you develop or discover? What improved?"


That's a damn good question.


Let's see...

In January I developed the skill of how to restore the circulation to my finger tips and ease that excruciating pain that says, "You stupid bugger, what are you sailing in this temperature for? You must be nuts." See the ironically titled I Love Winter. Useful, but not exactly a "core skill".

In August I discovered that if you work the boat hard on the beat in 15-20 knots you will go faster and might even win a race. See the cryptically titled Work. Well, that's more useful, but it's not really a discovery. I knew that all along. Just been too lazy lately to actually do it.

And in September I discovered that I am nowhere near fit enough to sail in big wind and waves with the best Laser Master sailors in the world. See the jokingly titled Half a World. Well that sure was a "discovery" but it wasn't exactly an area in which I "improved". Quite the opposite in fact.

So, if I am brutally honest with myself, I have to admit that I didn't discover or develop any core skills this year... and damn all improved. Quite depressing really.

If I stopped this post here I know the comments would be full of remarks from well-meaning friends who would tell me that, "It's not all about winning," and "Sailing is meant to be fun." Well, yes, I know I'm not going to be winning races at the Laser Masters Worlds. But there is a certain satisfaction to be gained from sailing a boat with a modicum of competence. And I don't see any reason why I shouldn't be improving one or two specific sailing skills each year. That would be rewarding in itself.

But I didn't improve any skills this year. In fact, I haven't improved any specific skills in most of the 30 years I've been sailing a Laser. Not consciously anyway.

Sad really.

I should. I could. I've owned Eric Twiname's book Sail, Race and Win for many years which is essentially about identifying skills you need to improve and then creating a self-coaching plan to achieve that improvement.

So why haven't I done it? Why didn't I do it this year? What makes me think next year will be any different?

Search me. Laziness and wishful thinking I suppose.

Jay has more excellent questions on this topic such as, "Is there one aspect of your sailing that, if it improved, would help you feel more motivated? Have you or can you put multiple practice sessions into honing your skill? Does the tradeoff between practice time and more skill seem worthwhile even if you don’t currently have the time?"

Oh geeze.

I think I'll go to bed now.


B.J. Porter said...


I have next to zero on the Laser so anytime I get on one and don't literally actually kill myself I learn something.

But IMHO you are asking the wrong question.

The right question is "Did you have FUN sailing the Laser last year?"

If it's not fun any more there is a reason why - which is either fixable or not depending on 1) the nature of the reason and 2) your willingness to fix it.

If you aren't enjoying it and it's taking time from something you enjoy (or value) more that seems like a perfectly reasonable reason to pack it in.

But if you are enjoying it and getting something valuable from it why stop?

Tillerman said...

Quite right BJ. And if you read Jay's original post (link above) you will see that he also says that sailing is best when it's fun. His post (and all these questions) are aimed at reflecting back on the year of sailing and thinking about what was fun and satisfying and rewarding... and what that says about what to do next year.

His questions about skill improvement are, I believe, about trying to see the rewards of progress in this area as being part of the satisfaction of Laser sailing too.

Since my answers in this area were so negative, it has made me realize I am missing part of the potential psychic rewards of sailing and racing by not being able to look back on some progress towards increased competence. Which is actually a motivation to approach the sport somewhat differently next year.

Oh, and by the way, I did have a lot fun on my Laser this year.

Anonymous said...

Don't look at your skill set! Act like a real boat owner. The proper answer to end your malaise is: Your boat is not up to snuff, you must need a new stiffer hull, plus crisper sails and better gloves too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book recommendation. I followed the link and a new paperback copy is $700. Is it that good?

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