Mentors: Do you know a ‘Fred’?

Published on August 27th, 2013

By Glenn McCarthy, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation
A few years ago, I put together a seminar for people who own boats and haven’t raced and would like to give racing a try. The industry has tons of seminars on tactics, racing rules, sail trimming, etc. That’s what they need, right? Wrong!

The seminar starts way back before those things. It explains what the purpose of a Notice of Race is (it’s the invitation to the party), how to enter a Race, what the Sailing Instructions define, how to apply the Racing Rules of Sailing, what the US Sailing Prescriptions are, how to handle Protests, and all the special needs like Appeals, ISAF Case Book, ORR, LMPHRF, Sailor Classification, IRPCAS, and Special Regulations. I explained that reading is a big part of this sport, and compliance with all of the rules takes knowledge and practice.

Then I stunned the audience by telling them it was the first time I did this seminar, and asked for their feedback. They said it was everything they have been looking for, except one thing. The guests at this seminar stated that they would add the need for a Mentor to be assigned to them. Someone experienced, to help make sure that they fill the forms out right, get the entry form in by the deadline, to get them through the starting line dance — which for newcomers is pretty intimidating — and make sure they go around the right marks in the right order.

So, I have been mulling this over. Who would make good Mentors? Are there some sailors who prefer to be teachers and would prefer to spend a year or a half year with a new racer and move onto another new student boat the next year? Then I started thinking of some boats that have been sold off, but the owners are still here. I haven’t seen them on the water since their boats left. Last year, we invited one of these guys out on our boat to join our team, Fred Pipin, past owner of the venerable V-Max.

We found out that once he sold his boat, nobody called him and invited him out on their boat. I’ll bet my bottom dollar there are many “Fred’s” around, and some of them would probably appreciate getting back on the water and have a TON to offer a new racer. While I don’t know if Fred is interested, I just am throwing an example out so you, too, can think of others who might love a call and become a mentor to a newcomer. This sounds like a pretty good source of Mentors to me. Could this be a match made in heaven? Can we identify others like Fred?

This seems like shooting ducks in a barrel to me. When you have a newcomer to racing, think of some racers who have sold their boats and haven’t been seen around in a few years and ask them if they would like to be a Mentor. Be a matchmaker, and help get newcomers up to speed quickly.

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