Showing up is a winning strategy
It’s blustery and the wind reminds me I haven’t written about sailing for quite a while. I have been busy enjoying it, instead of recounting my experiences.
In two weeks the Arizona Yacht Club will host their Commodore’s Dinner in celebration of the Fall ’09/Spring ’10 Race Series. I just looked at the final scoring and had to walk away, refresh the web page and look again. Unbelievable! It appears the women aboard Hot Flash, the Santana 20 with the over-confident flaming hull paint job, took third place. Really. I can’t fathom how THAT happened. Could it be a case of race point accounting gone wrong?
There is ample reason for me to doubt our podium results. Hot Flash had races that were down right embarrassing, notably the ones when Lynn was not aboard to constantly remind me to head up or fall off, or when we had such light winds the touchy boat veered off without my intent, seemingly possessed, avoiding the holy waters between race buoys. We spent more time than any sane sailor would bobbing along, creeping toward the mark at imperceptible speed.
When I told Ed the third place news, he said, and I quote, “Congratulations! Showing up paid off!” His complisult is dead on. If we had not sailed when we had little enthusiasm for sailing soaked, cold and beat up by squally conditions or facing the opposite of over-warm windless grinds, we would have been like most of the fleet, with a slew of “did not starts” and a burden of points to reflect the comfort of staying at home. So, I can’t boast that we placed because of superior skill. I can only say we were tenacious and showed the guys that we could suffer with the best of them. Our winning strategy was to show up.
But it certainly was not all bad, as a matter of fact, overall I had a blast. There were spills and thrills and a lot of learning to sail better that happened during the season. There was bonding with the crew — not all of it pretty. I also discovered, without a doubt, I am a blood and guts competitor. I really love to win, but absolutely hate to lose. Somehow I had managed to deny those two facts, preferring to think I did not need to win to be confident of my skills. I was surprised by my competitive behavior. When we missed a start by two minutes (an eternity) I was fit to be tied. When I missed a mark, I was not a happy camper. When a crew member made a mistake I quietly fumed. (I tried to keep it to myself — but they could undoubtedly tell I was “displeased”.) When a Catalina, not in our fleet, failed to respond properly to my “Starboard!” calls to give way, I exploded the F-bomb while our competition passed and the guilty Catalina fended off our stern, veering us woefully off course. My anger was over a few seconds lost during a seven-month, 43 race experience.
Our actual racing time for the season was recorded as 37 hours, 21 minutes and 28 seconds, figuring our four time limit expirations as only two hours each (not the eternity they actually took). I needed to know the details. The five seconds that cost one point, the few moments we squandered with a sloppy tack, the sail we let go untrimmed — I see how they all added up.
Out of that day-and-a-half actively racing, I estimate I spent eight hours frustrated with the oh-so-slow pace, two hours thrilled, a few minutes scared out of my wits, and the 26 plus hour balance having a really good time. Out of the 37 plus hours, I learned more than in the past four or five years of kicked-back, relaxed sailing, not caring where I went or how fast I got there.
I’m glad it is over so I can relax, but look forward to doing it again — a bit faster.