Monday, January 14, 2013

Preventing Rust

When I lived in England, we raced Lasers all year round (unless the lake froze over.) We didn't have a "frostbite" season as such. As I recall there weren't as many days of racing each week in the winter, and there weren't quite as many people racing, but some of us just kept going all year.

When I moved to New Jersey in 1989 I discovered a different culture. A lot of clubs worked on the principle that the sailing season lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day, end of May to beginning of September, not much more than three months really. The serious sailors might do some regattas in May and September too, but that still meant they only sailed for about five months of the year.

This all felt very strange to me. Not least because if I didn't sail from October to April I was incredibly clumsy and uncoordinated when I started sailing again in May. I was "rusty."

I tried to prevent the rust forming by sailing on my local lake by myself, or with a few friends, on warmer days in the winter. Some times I even broke the ice at the edge of the lake to reach the open water. But it wasn't the same as real fleet racing every weekend. I couldn't stop the metaphorical rust from forming.

Then I discovered frostbiting. I heard that there was a Laser fleet in Connecticut that raced 10 weeks from October to December, and another 10 weeks from March to May. It was over 75 miles away but it was worth it. It was my rust preventions strategy. If I sailed 20 weekends over the winter I wasn't quite as rusty every year in May as I used to be.

In 2007 I moved to Rhode Island. The Laser frostbiting fleet here in Newport doesn't even take a break in the middle of winter like the the one in Connecticut did. They sail every weekend from the beginning of November to the end of April (except for Easter.)  The perfect rust inhibitor.

It was in the spirit of rust prevention that I headed down to Newport yesterday. The weather was predicted to be cloudy and around 50 degrees F. What we used to call in England "a perfect summer's day."

There were just under 30 Lasers racing. I didn't do all that well. Was just outside the top 20 in three of the races, and just inside the top 20 in the other three. But I was practicing my starts and tacks and gybes and windward mark roundings and leeward mark roundings and upwind speed and downwind speed and strategy and tactics and Rules knowledge... "Starboard... STARBOARD... yes YOU.... WHAT ARE YOU THINKING????"

Sorry. Got carried away a bit there.

During the first race we could see a few wisps of low cloud near the course. During the second race the fog descended, and it stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. You couldn't see the racing marks until you almost ran into them... if you were lucky. Some sailors probably sailed off into the fog and didn't realize they were in trouble until they hit the shore in Jamestown on the other side of the Eastern Passage.

Anyway it was fun. And the fog reminded me of sailing in England.

And maybe it will help with the rust prevention?


O Docker said...

In the poor visibility, it's a good thing you folks weren't overtaken by any quick catamarans.

The cat creeps in on little fogged fleets.

my2fish said...

F#ck the f#cking cold.

Tillerman said...

It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.

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