Harken Derm

I’m Okay with Rain Delays

Published on August 6th, 2018

by Kim Couranz, SpinSheet magazine
If it’s anywhere from early April to early November, and I’m not at work, sailing, running, or volunteering at my sailing club, there’s a good chance I’m enjoying a baseball game. I grew up outside of Boston as a Red Sox fan, but ever since the Washington Nationals arrived to our nation’s capital in 2005, I’ve been all in on the Natitude.

I’ve had my heart broken a few times, and yet it remains full of hope. If I’ve missed a home opener, it’s only because I was out of town at a regatta. I have a Max Scherzer-signed baseball; I got him to sign it because I tacked an extra day on to a trip to Florida for a regatta to be able to swing by and enjoy a spring training game.

Baseball and sailing are both quirky sports with lots of confusing rules, but one big element that bonds them together in most places is, actually, the elements. Both are “played” outdoors in a wide range of conditions. For the most part, the only reason play is halted due to weather is that safety has become a concern.

Lightning isn’t good, whether you’re in center field or in the middle of the Bay, so definitely no games or racing during thunderstorms. Wind so strong the type of boat out sailing is prone to breaking masts? Yeah, best to postpone or abandon. Raining so much the guy throwing the ball at nearly 100 mph is tossing it near someone’s head—and who needs pinpoint control—finds the ball slipping in his grasp? Yup, rain delay is the way to go.

Otherwise, dealing with sometimes adverse weather is just part of what we do. Having to deal with the occasional rain delay (or in our case as sailors, a postponement every now and then) is well worth it for having our competitions held outdoors. It’s part of our sport(s), and how well we deal with the weather—and how we use it in our strategies— can be a big part of our success.

Can you imagine what sailboat racing would be like if the conditions were always the same? If somehow there were an indoor stadium we went to a few times a week where there was absolutely no current, minimal waves, and it always blew eight to 10 knots from the same direction? I tend to think that most of us would lose interest fairly quickly.

Quite frankly, I have a pretty hard time with those closed- or retractable roof stadiums for baseball, too. Yes, there are some understandable exceptions— being able to shut out the snow at the beginning of the season in Toronto or keep fans and players from extreme dehydration in midsummer in Arizona.

But for cities that close their baseball stadium roofs when it’s a bit humid out? Well I think that takes some of the joy out of it all. (So no, I will never be signing a MLB contract with Tampa Bay. Not that their stadium is the only hurdle in that scenario.)

Sailing lets us embrace the joy of being outside, too, and that is a privilege I don’t take lightly. Yes, we must prepare for the conditions we expect to encounter. Tucking an extra bottle of water or a winter hat into my dry bag is a small price to pay to make my time on the water more pleasant.

The bottom line is that for both baseball and sailing, in order to fully enjoy our sports in the places they are supposed to be played and competed, sometimes we have to put up with a rain delay. For both sports, it’s well worth it.


SpinSheet is a Chesapeake based sailing magazine delivering news about racing, cruising, and daysailing on the Chesapeake Bay.

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