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post #1 of 87 Old 04-07-2019 Thread Starter
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Non Racing Sailors

I was wondering if there are many sailors who are totally not into any formal racing? Most races as far as I know are organized by a club or clubs. But I know that there are things like Thursday night races which start at some designated point at say 6pm and end back at that same point... no handicaps.. anyone who shows up can join the fleet. I suppose members of a club would hang out together at the club after the race... the others go their separate ways.

I have only participated in that race one time and once in the Marion Bermuda race. The later was my first ocean passage and I joined the race for safety reasons... not to compete.

I admire skills of many of these crews for sure. But as a single handed sailor the crew sort of sailing is not something I do in any case.

Aside from getting one's boat going fast and working with the currents etc... the real challenge in racing may be sailing close to other boats where collision avoidance and following the rules of the road becomes very important. As I try to stay away from other boats in principle this sort of sailing is something I would normally avoid at all cost. Wifey would be petrified! We do try to "race" with a same size or larger boat who appears to be headed for the same destination to see how well we can get Shiva sailing. We don't typically get close to the other boat.

Is my approach to exception to the rule that sailors love to race?
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post #2 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

I look at sailing as a matrix that includes:
* Movement
* Achievement
* Curiosity

These can be explored with varying levels of intensity and mixed up in may combinations. Racing addresses the first two. Circumnavigating perhaps the second two at a high level of intensity. Local gunkholing the 3rd, at a low level of intensity.

They all make sense to me, but not for me, not all the time.
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post #3 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

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Wifey would be petrified! We do try to "race" with a same size or larger boat who appears to be headed for the same destination to see how well we can get Shiva sailing. We don't typically get close to the other boat.

Is my approach to exception to the rule that sailors love to race?
Goes to prove my theory: If there are two boats sailing with two guys at the helm, they are racing, whether they both know it or not.

I love all forms of sailing from dinghys, to daysailing or cruising on larger boats. A majority of my time has been spent racing. It is a completely different sport. While a yachtsman like yourself is a well rounded self sufficient person who does everything from maintenance to navigation, to single hand docking.

On a race boat there may be a crew who are all really good at what they do. Some may have been sailing since they are two at their parents yacht club and are good all around sailors like yourself. Others may have never been on a sailboat that was not racing and know nothing about sailing besides their one job. It always amazes me a crew can make a boat sail so competitively when only a few members of the boat really know what is going on in the big picture. By big picture I mean amongst this crew of 10 only 2 or 3 may know the rules, and be able to navigate and dock the boat if something happened to the Skipper.

What I love about racing is being able to sail a boat like you stole it. Sailing a boat to the limit of its potential. Each owner will have a limit of how hard they want to push it, but in general they will be providing a well equipped boat with newer sails and ask you to do your part to push the performance envelope. Another neat thing about racing is the teamwork. Guys can be racing competitively into their 70s or 80s by filling their boat with the right crew.

For some people racing is just not their thing. Some may watch this video and think the sailors are reckless. I watch this and wish I was young or good enough to compete at that level.

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Re: Non Racing Sailors

The main thing I learned from my years of club racing that carries over to my current daysailing and cruising is sail trim. I still enjoy tweaking the sail adjustments and getting the boat to go a bit better.

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post #5 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

I do not, ever race my own boat. If there are two boats sailing the same direction, it improves the view, and if he's a bit ahead I get a foreview of the winds I may get.
Don't get me wrong. I love to race sailboats and was fairly successful when I did it on Frisco Bay, but I just can't justify the gear one will break when one is pushing their boat hard enough to 'beat the competition'.
But hey, if you're looking for someone to put a few trophies on your mantle, then give me a call. Just be prepared to write the checks that pushing a sailboat up to, and slightly beyond the limit, will cost.
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post #6 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

I've crewed in less that 15 races in my 60 years of sailing. At least that was in official races. If there is another boat out there will do everything I can think of, short of jettisoning crew, to better the performance of the boat. Just a natural competitiveness and desire to see what the old girl will do.
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post #7 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

Hi,

I’m a member of the mount Sinai sailing association (near port Jefferson, about an hour from you). There are about 100 families on the MSSA. We do racing (about 40 races a year), weekend cruises (about 10), social other events.

Generally the racers don’t cruise and the cruisers don’t race. Of course there is some overlap.

I started racing to become a better sailor. If you want to learn, racing will teach you how to get the most performance from your boat. How to optimize sail trim, sail handling, the importance of a clean bottom, etc., all are very important for optimum sailing performance.

Racing isn’t for everyone and i completely get it. When the wind is light (or nonexistent ), or blowing like crazy, i understand why you would not want to race. Personally, if I’m sailing to get somewhere and the wind is light i will motorsail at 6+ kits towards my destination. If you are worried about boat handling in close proximity to other boats then racing may not be for you. I can tell you that when my wife and I started sailing, she was nervous if we were within 100’ of another boat she was nervous. After doing some racing she is now much more calm when we are around other boats.

My last point: i don’t understand the fear of ‘sailing hard’. Just because you are racing doesn’t mean you have to stress the boat any more than cruising. Maybe you reef a little later, if you’re afraid of damaging your boat then something is wrong with your boat. I’ve raced in 30-40 Kts. of wind, upwind and downwind. It is scary but i know that the boat can (or at least should) be able to handle a lot more.

Barry
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Last edited by BarryL; 04-07-2019 at 06:24 PM.
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post #8 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

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Hi,
My last point: i don’t understand the fear of ‘sailing hard’. Just because you are racing doesn’t mean you have to stress the boat any more than cruising. Maybe you reef a little later, if you’re afraid of damaging your boat then something is wrong with your boat. I’ve raced in 30-40 Ltd of wind, upwind and downwind. It is scary but i know that the boat can (or at least should) be able to handle a lot more. Barry
It isn't about being scared, it's about common sense. Our boat is our home, our livelihood and our means of transportation. Sure, if your boat is your plaything, you can go out there and beat the daylights out of her, then go home and take a shower and give her not a thought until the next race.
To be a consistent winner in racing you must push the boat and her equipment far beyond the general level of what would be considered prudent seamanship. I don't see the Volvo boats easing off in any weather. It's balls to the walls 24/7 and that takes a huge toll on the men and the equipment, and they are running multi-million dollar budgets!
And for what? Fun? Bragging rights? A silly little trophy?
We have to do that often enough to meet our charter schedules, but we are paid for that and that money goes back into the boat a lot faster than from a cruiser's kitty.
I raced on a boat in Frisco Bay that won 5 out of 7 seasons, and the first season was division, which we didn't win. We never reefed, we rarely eased the sheets no matter how deep the rail was in the water and we replaced our sails seasonally. There were times when the boat was sailing beyond the crew's ability to control her, especially on the downwind runs from the GG bridge, and if the main boom hadn't been prevented and vanged down, we would have broached and dismasted her, nearly every single race. If you don't intend to 'stress the boat any more than cruising" then you are not going to be taking home any trophies, or you are going to be spending a great deal of money cruising.
As far as stressing a boat and being "scared" how about you do a Christmas bareboat charter in the Windwards or Leewards (not the VI because that is just the kindergarten) and sail a channel every day, especially north in the northeast Christmas Winds. No weather windows or going when you feel like it. Perhaps "fear" will take on a slightly broader meaning to you after a week of that, even if it isn't your rig or sails at stake.

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post #9 of 87 Old 04-07-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

I never race my boat. There's plenty of stuff to maintain through normal cruising wear and tear without worrying about whether or not some other boats bowsprit is going to the tangled up in my boats life lines. It's something I never rather not worry about. I do enjoy watching the racing sailors head out of the harbor with their crews in their weekly attempts of one upmanship and earned bragging rights. I like to figure out if I can see who on the boats are the experienced crew and who are the novices as they sail by. Meanwhile I prefer to sit back and enjoy the sunset as they head out to the course.
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post #10 of 87 Old 04-08-2019
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Re: Non Racing Sailors

There are so many different levels of "racing". Sure there are the hardcore ocean racers, with multi million dollar budgets, but the vast majority of racers, and the type that I think we are talking about are club racers.

How hard you push your boat entirely depends on how important the race is to you, and how much confidence you have in your boat and your crew. If you don't feel you or your crew can handle flying a spinnaker in heavy conditions, just don't do it. Many heavy air races have been won by the boat that sailed conservatively and didn't break anything. When it comes to club racing it is entirely up to the skipper how serious it gets. There is a level of racing for everyone, from full on Grand Prix to "No Flying Sails" divisions for cruisers.

I think many cruisers can learn a lot about their boats by racing. Contrary to what some believe, racing is not about just carrying as much sail area as possible no matter what. You will not see a competitive race boat sailing around with rails in the water, because that is not fast. Racing is about having the right sail configuration for the conditions to maximize performance while maintaining full control.
Sail shape and sail trim are critical in racing, and most of the tools and techniques racers use would also benefit cruisers, yet I am always amazed at how poorly equipped cruising boats are in that area.
Sailing upwind is one area where cruisers struggle. Where a cruiser might be reefing their main, the racer is using backstay adjuster, Cunningham, mainsheet and traveller to flatten and depower the full mainsail. The flattened sail is much more effective than the reefed sail, which is likely still too full.
Gaining knowledge of good sail shape will also make the cruiser look at their sails with a critical eye. I see so many cruising boats with atrocious sails. You can say "I don't race so it doesn't matter", but once you learn the benefit of good sail shape you may think differently. A sail that is too full, with the draft to far aft is going to mean more heeling force, less forward force, and more drag. I'm not saying you need to go out and buy new racing sails, although you may put new cruising sails higher on the wish list. In the meantime your local sailmaker can work wonders with a recut for a few hundred dollars.

Don't be afraid to go out and join in some races even if you just chase the fleet around the course. If you don't want to "risk" your own boat, try to get out and race on someone elses boat. I can pretty much guarantee you will learn something.

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