Monday, August 17, 2015

Fear and Self-loathing in the Midst of Good Neighbours

File photo of Shark #901, Ambitious

The last club race (Good Neighbours Series for BYC-PCYC) was yet another example of how great the sailing is here in Montreal. In the PHRF III division we had 13 boats racing. 12 one-design Sharks and one Tanzer 22. The handicap rating for the T22 has been modified this year to be the same as the Shark. So, PHRF III is actually level racing!

John Linton gets to give the Sharks comeuppance with his Tanzer. In light winds, the Tanzer has the advantage downwind, in heavy air it gets whupped by the Shark. Last Thursday, the breeze was light, but his team also sailed very well and scored 2nd place. John is one of the best competitors in the fleet, and he has to be, because the Sharks boast some stellar sailors.

For the rest of the fleet, it is actually a one design race, and how often do you get to do that in club racing? Not too often around Montreal. Usually club racing is a mish mash of different boat designs, and one boat or another has an advantage in the given condition of the day. Now, in our racing, we have adopted the Shark, and they all go the same speed. 12 Sharks in that club race, all competing without the luxury of excuses. The more the Shark fleet grows, the more it attracts sailors who see the fun and competition.

I find it pretty tough, to be honest, and I also am driven to keep trying again and again. It really is a humbling experience. When hard work pays off, and your team becomes more competitive it is highly satisfying. When it seems I should be doing better, I am not the greatest loser. No, I don't get foul (generally!). Still, a poor performance leaves me bruised, and ruminating, unsatisfied, troubled. I didn't name this little fixer-upper boat and normally unassuming team Ambitious for nothing. I am aware placing high is a tall order. Perhaps it's my dark side. I do realize though that this is a game, a part-time pastime, and I have not sailed all my life. So, I try to moderate my self-loathing! Still, as this blog reveals, I have been doing this for a while. I am clearly an obstinate, but slow-learner.When time allows, the distractions of real life abate, focus is right, and lessons remembered, Team Ambitious has good races and does improve! This is the beauty of the challenge in Montreal Sailing, in competing against such excellent sailors, in the complexity of the sport,

The Shark fleet has sailors of all abilities and fortune. This is another asset. Racing with us means you can compete against somebody, no matter what your luck or skill that day. A good fleet also has good teachers. The Dean of Shark sailing at BYC, Jin Frati has been very generous and helpful for me recently. It is stunning when a master makes a couple seemingly small changes, and the boat surges forward!

Tomorrow evening, Team Ambitious sails its last evening club race before the Shark World Championship. The regatta in Ottawa is where we really eat humble pie! I couldn't choose a better way to spend a week of my summer vacation.

GNS Race, August 13, 2015