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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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S2 7.9 Bear Lake, UT
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #11
I would have thought that after own and sailing a boat for some time the skipper would be sharpening their sailing skills with or without racing. You can self teach by trying / playing around with sail control and this is something a monohull can tell you probably better than a multi which does not heel. If you have an accurate speedo and wind instruments with reasonable steady conditions... whatever they are... your tweaking will become apparent in you boat speed read out, and your course made good as well as your heel angle.

My knotmeter reads to .01 accuracy. And regardless of whether it is calibrated or not you can see very minor changes in speed and use this to inform your sail trim. Of course if you are using only GPS speed you likely can't see the impact that minor tweaks on the control lines have on performance. For me excessive heel is a tell that the boat is over canvased and likely making too much leeway... and it's not comfortable either. All of this performance information has nothing to do with what another boat is doing... for me 99% of the time. Because I sailing locally and mostly on the weekends it is inevitable that other boats are going to the same destination. I can and do use their performance as a bench mark for my performance. I take into consideration their LWL and what sort of boat they are. Are they a loaded up cruisers towing a dink or a sleek sailing boat? And a clean bottom makes a world of difference. I notice I scrub a knot or more with a fouled bottom and towing a dink with a fouled bottom slows me even more. Since I tow because I cruise and don't use davits I take this into consideration.

The social aspect of competition is either something you crave or don't. I don't. Yet I do admire a well oiled crew working a sleek sailing boat who definitely are getting every .1 or even .01 of a knot of speed from the boat.

Any cruising sailor with tell tails and decent instruments can and will get their boats sailing as good as they can. Lazy sailors don't seem to care as just being on their boat going somewhere seems to be what it's about for them.
 

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Sandero-- I know you, as they say, IRL.

I don't see you racing Shiva around the cans on Thursday nights. No way!! I LOL thinking about that one. Although you are really fast and your boat is fast, so you would be very good at it.

And I'm with you in that lack of racing. I have a great sailing club and racing league right next to my dock. I always think it would be great to hang out with sailors and get together and then I remember I just want to do my own thing with my boat and yeah -- not break it. I put the autopilot on and stare at the clouds. And I have no desire to have orders yelled at me by same racing skipper. The other thing is schedule. I like to sail when the wind is strong and steady and the racers get what they get.

And so I never race. And I probably, no - I almost certainly never will.
 

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying if you don't race you CAN'T learn how to make your boat go, just that you will learn MORE if you race. You can certainly compare your performance to whatever random boats are around you on any given day. That still is not as good as comparing your performance to the same boats going to the exact same place as you on a regular basis.

Another interesting point; when you race you sail in whatever conditions you get on any given day, you dont get to pick and choose. That means you could end up sailing in light air. Light air sailing, can be very frustrating but also very rewarding. It doesnt take all that much skill to reach in 20kts and go fast. It takes a LOT of skill to get the most out of your boat when it is only blowing 5kts. You never know, that skill may come in handy if your engine dies on a long light air passage.

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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.
Jettisoning crew is not permitted! :wink (RRS#47.2) Anyone leaving the boat has to be back aboard before you continue racing. Only certain classes (like Bermuda fitted dinghies?) permit finishing without everyone you started with in their class rules.

I lost a crew overboard in a race on lake Ontario once when he missed his hiking strap on our Soling. We were in about 5th place in a 30-boat fleet, surfing with the spinnaker up when he went swimming. It did not improve our results, though we did not finish last.

Racing and the discussion afterwards does help learn the rules. On a Soling if you duck a starboard tack boat by more than three feet, you've ducked two feet too far. We try to allow a bit more space now, with our bigger boat.
 

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There are so many different levels of "racing".
I'm sorry to disagree, but there is only one level of racing if one wants to win consistently. One can go out and dither around, getting in the way of the serious racers on the formal races or club races, but if you want that trophy, you've got to pay for it one way or another. And IME that takes hard work, risking equipment and a dedication to do whatever it takes ti to be just a few seconds faster than the next guy.
 

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I have to respectfully disagree with Capta. We don't race our boat too hard, but a couple years ago we did buy new sails to replace the original 2979 sails, a cheap whisker pole, and a speed puck, so there is investment in getting enough gear to be competitive. But there very much ARE different levels of racing. It all just depends upon the club, the fleet, and the other racers around you. Most of our spinnaker fleet racers are very competitive, and pay for the fancy laminate, carbon/whatever sails. Our JAM fleet is competitive, but very few, if any, "racing" sails, mostly just dacron. We have gotten the blue flag for the spring, summer, and fall series' (about 9 races each), in the JAM fleet for the past couple years, all but a couple times, and those times we got the red flag. It's a competitive, but friendly group of people. You don't have to yell or be yelled at to race. that's just bad skippering, as far as I'm concerned.

We've been racing for a few years now, and when we started we didn't know anything, and it showed. Often finishing dead last, but still having fun. Watching what winning boats did on the race course helped educate us, and of course talking with those skippers and crew afterward helped a lot. We've been the boat to beat in the JAM fleet for the last year or so, and it's fun to be that boat. However, we learn more when we don't finish first, because we can try to figure out what we did wrong, or what the other boats did differently and why, allowing them to finish ahead of us.

We're going to figure out how to fly a spinnaker, and move up to the spinnaker fleet for Summer, and maybe Fall. We won't even get a sniff of a third place finish I'm sure, but we'll still have fun, compete with similar boats, and try to learn and improve.

I love racing. First race is Wednesday here in Central Ohio.
 

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I'm sorry to disagree, but there is only one level of racing if one wants to win consistently. One can go out and dither around, getting in the way of the serious racers on the formal races or club races, but if you want that trophy, you've got to pay for it one way or another. And IME that takes hard work, risking equipment and a dedication to do whatever it takes ti to be just a few seconds faster than the next guy.
Sorry, but your response, which technically correct, is not helpful. There are a few Olympic winners, most classes have a world championships, and there are a bunch of big races (Newport-Bermuda, Sidney-Hobart, America's Cup, etc.). By your logic, unless you are working to win one or more of those, you're not *really* racing. I mainly do club racing, and last summer I helped some liveaboards race their houses PHRF. Yes, I have had somme (limited) success in more serious racing, but even the folks who are dragging all their worldly possessions around the beer cans are also doing their best and becoming better sailors.

Just as people can recreationally play basketball, they can recreationally race sailboats. Those weekend hoop-shooters will never be in the NBA, but that doesn't mean they are not playing basketball.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Obviously there are different levels of racing... and there is as far as I know no major leagues except if you consider off show sponsored races the big leagues.... but this is not round the cans short races.

The race I referred to out in the east end of Long Island and there are several including the Whitebread... and the weekly Wednesday or Thursday (forgot which one) race from the jetty in Greenport to the west to the buoy at the SW corner of Shelter Island and back. This evening race is for anyone who want to join in and the start is the 6 o'clock siren from Greenport. Obviously for local sailors and visiting ones who happen to be there and want to spend 3 hrs tacking and reaching with a few tens of boats which range from Solings to heaving long LWL cruisers. Don't know any organized post race gatherings. I presume Shelter Island Yacht Club opens their bar after the race. I think I did this once back in the 80s. It was kinda fun. But not something I would do every week as many do.
 

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In my nearly 20 years of sailing on keel boats now I’ve been in exactly one actual race. We came in second … there were two boats in the race :)

I have no — have never had any — desire to race. Sure, if a similar sized boat is within view I might do a bit more sail tweaking, and I do like to sail efficiently, but honestly, the whole racing around the cans thing holds zero interest for me.

I’m a cruiser, which to me means I am in it for the lifestyle. Sailing is fun, and interesting, and a nice way to move my home around, but it’s not the reason I own a sailboat.

My attitude is, I’m a cruiser, I’ll trim those sails after lunch ;).
 

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Sorry, but your response, which technically correct, is not helpful. There are a few Olympic winners, most classes have a world championships, and there are a bunch of big races (Newport-Bermuda, Sidney-Hobart, America's Cup, etc.). By your logic, unless you are working to win one or more of those, you're not *really* racing. I mainly do club racing, and last summer I helped some liveaboards race their houses PHRF. Yes, I have had somme (limited) success in more serious racing, but even the folks who are dragging all their worldly possessions around the beer cans are also doing their best and becoming better sailors.

Just as people can recreationally play basketball, they can recreationally race sailboats. Those weekend hoop-shooters will never be in the NBA, but that doesn't mean they are not playing basketball.
Helpful or not it is my opinion.
As I said, anybody can putter around the race course and get in the way of the serious racers, but those folks are not the ones consistently standing on the podium at the trophy parties. All I ever said was that I wasn't going to enter my boat in any race for any reason where I wasn't willing to risk it all to be the winner. I don't need sailing lessons in some harbor or lake somewhere on Wednesday evenings and I couldn't care less if another boat passes me on a fine or foul day out where we do sail.
I wasn't telling you what you should do unless you decide you want to be a consistent winner.
I cannot see how you can compare recreational basketball to racing and risking your home and livelihood. Remember, we are from two different worlds and your boat is nothing more than an expensive plaything to you. You have nothing to lose, should you dismast her, other than some time and money, your life goes on. We could lose a whole season's income and more, as a dismasted 50' sailboat is not going to be very charterable! My insurance company is not going to buy me a new 60+k rig if they find out I was racing, even for fun.
But having stood on that winner's podium for 5 out of 7 seasons in Frisco Bay racing, then cruising, chartering and a circumnavigation under sail to boot, I think I have some idea of what I speak.
If you don't think my response is helpful to you, that's cool with me. But somebody else out there could read it and come away with a completely different take than you and consider it helpful, don't you think?
 
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