Saturday, January 10, 2015

4 Ways to Win Respect on the Race Course

What kind of qualities do you appreciate in the sailors you race against?

How do you want to be seen by your fellow sailors?

Who do you respect, and why?

I was reading an article the other day about a famous man who plays a different sport. It doesn't really matter who he is. In reading the article, which including interviews about this man with several people who have played with him, I found myself thinking, "Yeah. That's exactly the kind of person I like to sail with." Bear in mind that I am a Laser sailor, so I am not talking about someone who is a good crew member, team player, yada, yada, yada. I am talking about someone who is good to compete against in an individual sport.

Here are some quotes from the article (changed a little to make the comments applicable to sailing rather than the other sport.)

1. “He’s honest." This is important for me. I want to race with people who do their turns when they have broken the rules, or who will retire from a race if they realize afterwards that they were in the wrong. I remember one friend who was sailing a series with me, who announced before the racing at one event in the series that he had decided to retire from a race in a previous event because, after checking the rule book and thinking about an incident some more, he concluded that he was at fault. I am probably not the only one who remembers this, even though it was probably at least 15 years ago.

2. "He just seems happy to be out there. Mistakes don't bother him. He keeps his composure no matter what goes wrong.” It's easy to get angry or depressed when you are having a bad day… sailing slow, capsizing a lot, hitting marks or other boats etc. etc. etc. We have all had days like that. I really admire the people who see the bigger picture, and don't let things get them down. A bad day on the water is better than a good day at the office, as they say.

3. "He smiles. He makes a mistake and he makes fun of himself. You make a mistake, and he makes a joke with you." I appreciate fellow sailors who keep things light, who can laugh at themselves, and cheer me up with a joke when I have screwed up.

4. "He doesn't quit." Persistence is a quality that I really respect. I used to be that guy who never gave up, who sailed and finished every race no matter how tired I was. I even won an Ironman trophy one year for sailing and finishing more races than anyone else in a very tough competitive frostbite fleet. I haven't been that way the last few years. I have got into the groove of sailing a few races and then going in early when I feel a bit tired or am losing my focus. This year will be different. I will get fit. I will be one of those sailors who doesn't quit.

Anyway, I though that was a pretty good list of attributes that I value in my competitors, and to which I can aspire myself. I count myself lucky that many of the people whom I sail against have most or all of these qualities, and that several of them are my friends.

What about you?

Would you add any personal qualities to this list?

Or to turn the question around, what kind of bad behavior by your competitors really ticks you off?


Keep Reaching said...

I really respect a fellow competitor who shares tips and advice freely - especially the with newbies or bottom half of the fleet.

Tillerman said...

Good one. So do I.

/Pam said...

It's a sliding scale for me. Sailors who practice inclusiveness (communication, assistance and encouragement) are highly valued and respected at the bottom of each level (back, middle and front). As I move up to the middle and top of each level, I still appreciate a sailor who communicates freely but I also begin to really appreciate fair and equal competition, meaning those with the skill and knowledge to pick on me, don't, and those who are equally matched, do their best as we trade tacks and places and learn from each other as we go around the course.

Kurt Hoehne said...

I'd add someone who furthers the sport - volunteering to do RC, bring the beer, move the boats, deal with the club, create the mailing list etc.

Tillerman said...

Another good one Kurt.

As it says in Laser Racing: The Rules

#35 Volunteer.
If you see something that needs to be done in your local fleet, club or district and it isn't being done or isn't being done as well as you think it should be done... then don't whine about it; do it yourself.

#36 If you can't think of anything else you can do to help the sport, then be the guy that brings the beer.

George A said...

I respect the guy who is sentient enough to remember to bring the beer. Oh, and sharing beer is also a respectful kinda thing.

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