Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 166 Times in 135 Posts
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Re: Slow Racing or Fast Cruising?
First of all, let my congratulate and thank everyone for keeping this civil. When I saw the first post on this I thought to myself, "This could get ugly!".
To me the reality of these kinds issues have no single answer and instead simply boil down to a personal preference. Whether you elect to 'sail fast', or race, or whether you don't care about speed at all, or fall somewhere in between, is entirely a personal decision with you own individual choice falling somewhere on a very broad spectrum of possible philosophical inclinations. How you elect to sail may even vary from day to day and moment to moment for that matter. For the most part, it's nobody's business to critique other than your own.
And yet on the internet there often is a tendency to take what should be discussions of personal preference and seemingly choose up teams, with each defending to the death the narrow segment of the spectrum that grabs them. Fortunately, that has not happened in this revealing discourse.
In reality, what most people have said is true. We typically all sail for enjoyment, and define what we consider to be enjoyable. For people like me, I enjoy sailing the boat 'smartly', sails trimmed for speed and balance. I like the mental challenge and the physicality of sailing well. I also enjoy racing. I also enjoy sailing traditional watercraft, which will not inherently fast, can be inherently mentally and physically challenging. But in each case, at least for me, the quality and experience of the sailing and the race is the end unto itself.
For as competitive and as focused on winning as I may be during the race, I actually don't care if I didn't win after the race. In other words, my reason for racing is sailing the race well. Its been a long time and a bunch of trophies since I actually cared about the trip to the podium after the race is over.
I have raced on some pretty high level race boats in some world class regattas, and in reality, the best racing crews are comparatively low volume affairs. There is a lot oc comminication but its done surprisingly quietly with information circulating around the boat so all know what is happening and about to happen, and all eyes gathering and feeding information and sharing it. On the best crewed boats that I have sailed on, there are no rock stars or primadonas. We are not competing for stature or attention with each other, we are all on the same team and looking out for each other. As one skipper liked to joke, a well slimed machine.
Similarly, the reward for a fast passage time is the quality of sailing along the way, rather than the boats I pass. (Although, sometimes the reward is that its nice to arrive at an anchorage before it is full, or be able to lounge on the hook a little longer knowing that you'll get where you want to go fast enough that you have that luxury of a bit more hanging about.)
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay