Thursday, November 04, 2010


Should I Race My Laser Again Next Year??

That's the title of the latest post on Jay Livingston's Laser Sailing Notes blog. Jay's posts always make me think. He has a way of focusing in on the key issues and questions, especially those relevant to older Laser sailors like him and me.

Should I race my Laser again next year? What's "should" got to do with it? I will if I want to. I probably will. But in trying to answer that first question "Should I Race My Laser Again Next Year?" Jay poses a whole series of other questions that are designed to help any sailor decided what they want to do with their sailing next year.

Good questions. Deep questions. Questions that make you examine your priorities. Questions that will help you get the most out of your sailing next year.

I'm going to ask myself those questions, and ramble on here for a while with the answers. It may take a few posts to work through them all...

Jay says that in his career, coaching executives and other high functioning individuals, he has found it very helpful to use an approach called Appreciative Inquiry (inquire into what you should appreciate, what your strengths are, the positives). The idea is to not just identify all the problems, but to start with a recognition of what you do well, what you enjoy, what you’re good at.

So he asks the questions...

What did you enjoy this year? What was the most fun you had on your Laser this season? The most satisfaction?


I sailed some local regattas, and the Masters Worlds in England, and I did a lot of solo practice. But I think the two kinds of sailing I enjoyed the most were frostbiting in January and February, and practicing with the small group in Bristol on Tuesday evenings in the summer.

That I enjoyed frostbiting in the dead of winter was a total surprise to me. At my old frostbiting fleet in Connecticut, they didn't sail in January and February, but at Newport we sail all winter. Strangely enough I didn't feel all that motivated to go racing in the so-so, blah, cool, cloudy days of October, November, March and April. But in the bitter cold of midwinter, when there was snow on the ground and ice on the buoys some weekends... I wanted to go racing. And I loved it. When I told some fellow Laser sailors in the summer about this they looked at me like I was nuts. Am I Strange?

The other times I had the most fun this year were the Tuesday evenings in Bristol. Small fleets. Rabbit starts. Tough competition with some of the best Laser sailors in the area. Lots of races. And then off to a local pub or restaurant for dinner and a few beers and lively conversation. I don't know why I enjoyed these outings so much. Sometimes I won. More often I didn't. The social aspect was certainly one reason it was so much fun: plenty of banter on the water as well as off. Also there was less "down time" than in the typical regatta because there was hardly any waiting between races, and the area we race is only a short sail from where we launch. I think the fact that nobody keeps score (although we all remember our good races) is part of the reason it was so enjoyable too. Maybe I'm not such a competitive Type-A personality as I was when I was younger.

What does all that say about what should I do next year? Only sail in January and February and on summer Tuesdays? I'll have to think about that one.

A couple of other questions that Jay asked were, "What core skills did you develop or discover? What improved?"

Hmmm. That's tougher to answer. I think that will have to wait until the next post...


Sam Chapin said...

Next year will be different. It always is.

Tillerman said...

I know. But do I make it different in the way I want? Or just let it be different?

Baydog said...

Let it be different. It will be different. It can blow stink in New Jersey, but the waters are much more forgiving than Hayling. Like they said, if you flip, just stand up!

I think I'll go to bed now!

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

"Want what you have, do what you can, be who you are."

— Forrest Church

Tillerman said...

"My Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on."

- Forrest Gump

Antolin said...

the question really is, "will the waters remember our wake?", just in case they do not, then the obvious answer is YES, we need to sail again to remind the water that we are here.
arriba los viejitos!!

Frankie Perussault said...

Let it be VERY different!

Tillerman said...

I'm not sure I can handle VERY different at my age!

O Docker said...

My take is that you may have answered your own question here, but sometimes we're too close to things to see them for what they are.

Aren't you really asking,"Why do I sail in the first place?" and "What do I get out of sailing?"

Both sailing activities you mention are pretty much the same thing - a bunch of older, experienced guys who have developed some special skills that most people know nothing about, getting together in a supportive environment.

People do that all of the time in all different activities. You're telling each other, "Hey, this is cool. It's OK to be doing this - we're not crazy. Or, maybe we are crazy, but who cares?"

Car clubs. Wooden boat builders. Sewing circles. Book clubs. Sky divers. Bowling leagues. All the same thing, really.

You probably now realize you won't win the next international Laser regatta. You've always known that, of course, but maybe you're just now asking yourself, "If there's no chance of winning, what's the point?"

Woody Allen ended his film Annie Hall with this story:

I thought of that old joke: This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken.' And the doctor says, 'Well why don't you turn him in?' and the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships. They're totally irrational and crazy and absurd, but I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.

I think you and probably most of us sail because we need the eggs.

Tillerman said...

I don't have a brother.

Baydog said...

Then where do you get your eggs?

Tillerman said...

I have a crazy sister who thinks she's a supermarket.

Anonymous said...

There you have it: supermarket is closed on Sundays.

(in g'old Europe at least)

Plus you would need to change your subtitle.

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