Thursday, June 30, 2005

Windy Season

I've been a bit distracted lately. You see, it's sailing season. I sail on a regular basis, starting with twice a week, and ramping up to around four, once I get my own boat in the water. Pretty much that seems to sap all of my energy. So where does that leave me for this? Pretty much out to sea...

Wow, ok, that was a bit cheesy. See, it's sapped all the creativity as well.

Why does it grab my attention so? It's one of those sports that requires an amazing amount of focus and subtlety. Usually these are two athletic skills that I lack. With sailing, when I'm at the tiller, I have tremendous focus.

This might be more true in light wind. That's where the subtlety really comes into play. The tiller only needs a soft touch to get it to point higher or bear off. In those conditions it's easy to over-steer, and when there's light wind, it may be very difficult to actually get back to a preferred course.

Tactics are important in those wind conditions, as well. The job of the tactician is not only to be aware of the other boats, but to be aware of the wind conditions on the course. He or she needs to spot the areas of stronger, larger, more consistent pockets, all of which help to gain speed over the other boats in the race. A good tactician can make the race.

In the heavier air races, it's seems to be more a question of sailing skill. The tactician is still valuable in picking the favored side of the course, and in dealing with the other boats, but much of the time is spent sailing well on a long beat. Speed is maintained on well-executed tacks and mark roundings.

To see where I stand in all this, check out the Black Bear Yacht Racing Association's (BBYRA) race results. The boat I race on is called Improv. Great little boat, with not so great little racers.