The ‘Macho’ Element in Sailing

Published on March 29th, 2019

Afloat, Ireland’s sailing and boating magazine, featured a report by Tom MacSweeney discusses participation as it pertains to the sailing conditions.

I don’t particularly like the ‘macho’ element which crept into sailing during the past few years.

“Macho” has been defined as “behaving in a way that is thought to be typical of a man, especially by seeming strong and powerful but also seeming too determined to avoid showing weakness and sympathy.” The definition refers only to the male species …

I use it in regard to the attitude I’ve seen and heard of “we’ll go sailing whatever the conditions and show what we can do…”

I’ve had a few lively differences of opinion about races being staged in conditions which I thought questionable. All sailors must have experience of heavy weather and so be able to cope with it and Skippers have the responsibility to decide whether to take the boat out in prevailing weather conditions.

I accept all of that. Race Officers have a responsibility too, for deciding whether a race should go ahead. Offshore racing, transatlantic, world racing will inevitably encounter varying conditions.

There will be contrasting views and there will be those who ask how can heavy weather experience be gained if not by experiencing it? But is racing the way?

Sailing is a challenging sport in which weather conditions can change rapidly. As the sailing season gets underway, my emphasis after many years, still remains on going sailing for enjoyment.

I’ve experienced the heavy weather, in offshore, transatlantic, Round Ireland Races, October Leagues, etc. For me, the primary aspect of the sport is enjoying being out on the water.

In this regard, Whitesail, in which I had the pleasure with the late Jim Donegan of being involved in its initial introduction to Cork Harbour, offered a new opportunity for racing involvement in perhaps more benign racing mode and its development has been rapid.

So, this week my Podcast is about making the decision to take the boat out.

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