There are advantages to thinking through why you might want to continue racing in a particular race or series, even if you are miserably behind—think after dumping it, going to the wrong mark, being over early in light air, being so far back in the rankings that you can’t get even close to your expected finishing place, etc. We race for lots of individual reasons but “to lose” is not on the list. Yet the Laser gives us plenty of opportunities to be spectacularly out of the running for an expected finish—then what do you do?
Sailing can be a quietly satisfying activity—a gentle breeze nudges and lifts your boat across the water without motor, oars or paddle. On another day, sailing becomes an edgy activity—threatening a wet experience, if you don’t compensate quickly enough for a strong gust, and delivering an exhilarating ride when you synchronize sheet and sail, rudder and body weight.
So why isn’t this enough? Why add the minutiae of outhaul and cunningham, the complexity of shifts and competitors, the pressure of starting positions and timing? And more to the point, why add these things when you don’t feel the pull to test your skills against other sailors?
I have been having trouble for months getting my blogs to post. Apparently it was something about Internet Explorer. I really haven't given up the site, just can't aford to pay too much for tech fixes.
More will be coming soon.
The few times my wife sailed with me on our Wayfarer dingy, we had fun. She liked hiking out (a great abdominal workout) and she was comfortable getting wet. She was also pretty good for a beginner on the helm. I’d love to have her use one of my (our) Lasers and sail together. But I’m amazed at how often what sounds fun ends up leading to a morass of unforeseen complications.
Is your goal to have a complete picture of everything you did that caused you to blow the maneuver, to not see the obvious opportunity to advance? Or is it to improve your finishing position in the next race or regatta?
Just because you win or place highly in a Laser race doesn’t mean you’re improving your racing skills. Luck (the wind randomly oscillated your way) and circumstances (the good Laser sailors are at another regatta) may have been the deciding factors. Be careful if your natural inclination is to label your win a sign of your sailing or racing abilities.
It’s frustrating to not remember the average compass heading of the last wind shift, the required order of the marks or what the race committee’s current signal flag means. We tend to label these errors in a way that assumes that our brains are having temporary difficulties handling data processing and storage – “a senior moment”, “a slipped cog”.
Anxiety is a good thing to have when you’re racing a Laser sailboat. To perform at your best you need to have and use anxiety wisely to motivate yourself. To do that you need an idea of the range of anxiety where you achieve your optimal performance; the level of anxiety that energizes you just enough. To keep your anxiety within that zone you must practice recognizing and regulating its intensity and you need to frame it (conceptualize it, see it, think of it) as helpful.
Awareness, focus, attention are really just different ways to describe the act of being mindful of the data that is deluging us at any given moment. We choose what we will notice and let other things pass by without catching our attention. We simply cannot consciously notice everything, so we tend to detect those things we expect or that we have practiced looking for – we may not see the floating plastic bottle but we surely notice the race mark.
In a recent blog I suggested that Laser sailors outline important areas that we need to pay attention to, if we want to become better racers. On my list I included “Mental Performance”.