Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sailing is supposed to be fun

It had been two years since I last raced Snipes. I have had a Snipe since 1983, twice won the U.S. Nationals and North Americans, but the time between outings had steadily increased in the past decade. I still liked the boat and the people, but had tired of the training needed to remain competitive. The problem with having success is that it becomes hard to settle for less.

Certainly family needs was vying for time, but I found the emphasis of windward-leeward race courses had magnified my problem. Gary Bodie, former US Olympic head coach, once said that the demise of one-design racing is partly a result of better race management. I agree. A perfectly set W-L course left little room for part-timers like me, as the fastest win and the less able give up and disappear.

I can already hear people saying, "But isn't the point of a race to provide the fairest test?" And to that I say yes, but while some races are to determine championships, most racing is for recreation. Some races should provide different challenges. Some races should provide variety. Racing should be fun, and when it isn't fun, people leave.

When I heard the annual fall Snipe regatta this past weekend in San Diego would not use W-L courses, I had to experience it. The races used the permanent marks in Mission Bay, and some legs were not perfectly in line with the wind. Courses criss-crossed the entire bay. One race went around an island. This thirty boat fleet was tested in new ways, and for me, it was exhilarating.

This coming weekend is the biggest event of the year for keelboaters in San Diego. It is the Hot Rum Series, where legs are not perfect to the wind, and the inverted start allows the smallest boats to begin first. But people support this event because it is fun. Like sailing is supposed to be. - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remind me not to race a Snipe. Why would anyone want a race designed to do anything other than test the skills of the skipper/crew?

At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Dave Ellis said...

Any course sailed will test the skill of skipper and crew. I think sailors may become one dimensional with a steady diet of W/L courses. It lacks navigation skill, has less chance of various tidal effect, and is the same every time. Snipes, Windmills, Contenders, Raiders, Albacores and others love reaches, especially in a breeze. But the only time we get to do it is on the way back to the club.
Dave Ellis

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Here is our local fleet which does at least 30 reverse starts a year. Very popular. We do use fixed marks. I have been arguing in behalf of more windward leeward courses, because they are less boring than the no-passing-lane parades you get in triangle courses. However, I do not approve of moving marks. Last year, I found myself in a one-design race where not only were the marks moved, they were moved during a race; not only that, but one race was shortened in 15 knots of wind. Baby, that sucks with unfairness.

At 12:49 AM, Blogger Just Chill said...

While windward -leeward courses may test the skill of the skipper and crew - this is only true for one design sailboats. When you have a handicapped class of differing designs then the only way to test the skill of the skipper/crew is to have a race that incorporates not only windward - leeward but reaching, jibing and navigation. We all know that certain boats perform better on one point of sail verses another. Where we race, they do a W/L 3 times around or six legs, while creating more work for the race committee how about windward-reach-reach-windward-leeward-windward. I think this format is much more dynamic, challenges the boats/crew on all points of sail, has 6 legs, easily shortened, has 3 upwind legs. Anyone else have comments on this.

At 2:41 AM, Anonymous ChuckL8 said...

Craig: You present a very interesting take on the subject, especially Gary Bodie's comments about the lack of participation due toe cookie-cutter W/L courses. Makes perfect sense to me.

I've always been puzzled by the demise of reaching legs, and the course-planners excuse of "reaching legs are a parade." Some of the most exciting, and scary, racing I've done has happened on reaching legs, when the limits of the boat and crew are truly tested.

Throwing some kinks into the same old W/L courses would definitely spice things up again, as well as putting flyers back into the mix.

At 2:43 AM, Anonymous ChuckL8 said...

Somehow, "due to" turned into "due toe" when I posted. Sorry.

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Authur said...

I've start sailing for almost a year. It's quite expensive and it's also fun. I need to take this sailing lessons for my nautical training. I think this is an advantage for me to do.


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