Connecting the Dots from Sailing to Racing

Wednesday, 06 January 2016 11:47
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By Kim Couranz - originally published on SpinSheet Magazine - December 2015

How did you get into sailing small boats—and more specifically, how were you introduced to racing small boats? [more specifically you can read an article written by Carol Cronin: How to Start Racing Snipe Right]

Successful junior programs around the Chesapeake Bay introduce young sailors to sailing skills and racing strategy. But for those who don't grow up in a junior program, once they learn basic sailing, if they're interested in taking the leap into racing, how do they learn how it all happens?

I ask this because, a few years ago, I got lost while running in a race in a state park in the middle of nowhere in the east Tennessee mountains. (Really, there's a connection, stay with me here!) Finally I backtracked to the proper course, but my "detour" meant I missed a time cutoff and couldn't go out for the final nine miles of the race. I DNFed (did not finish)—my first DNF, at least in a running race, ever.

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So I have some unfinished business there, which I hope to rectify next fall. As we do with our sailing skills, if we identify an area in our skills we need to develop, we practice it; for example, if boat handling is rough, practicing tacks and gybes. So for my running, I realize that I need to practice my on-land navigation skills using a trail map and a compass (no GPS allowed for my Tennessee adventure).

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Kim Couranz

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1 comment

  • Marcus Ward Thursday, 07 January 2016 02:19 posted by Marcus Ward

    I think you're comparing 2 different things here. If someone who has never run a 10k before purchased a pair of shoes and showed up at the start, they'd run the right way and probably make it. Nobody else would be impacted by a newbie's lack of experience.

    On the other hand, a guy who owns a boat who shows up at the start line of a race without an understanding of the rules and who has right of way; he could not only impede other racers and ruin the race for some people, expensive boats could get damaged by this person's lack of experience.

    It's not the same game, it's not even the same ballpark. I think what you're lamenting is the lack of a way for a person who owns a boat to learn enough about racing to go do it without having to interact with other people, and that just isn't possible in this sport.

    The reason for the emphasis on the rules is because they're so fundamental to what we're doing, and what we're doing is complicated. You can have a completely inexperienced person show up to race and it might be okay, especially in lighter air, but having a mentor for this person, having them race on someone else's boat, is definitely a better way to handle it.

    All that said, I have never, and can't conceive of a situation where someone with a boat shows up to the race night and asks to join in being met with anything but open arms and enthusiasm. I can't speak for 'yacht racers' since I only race dinghies, and when someone shows up with a boat we do everything we can, including donating parts, sails, whatever, to get them on the start line so they have a good time.

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