Harken Derm

Wisdom from a Septuagenarian

Published on April 22nd, 2019

Don Finkle of RCR Yachts has been a contributor and competitor in the sport for a long day. He has seen what works offers here some wisdom.

Too much of a good thing?
It is no secret that attendance at many events is down. Despite this, more and more races and regattas keep being added to an already crowded calendar. Nobody has that much free time anymore.

The result is diluted competition, conflicts between events, less fun for the participants, smaller parties, less attractiveness to sponsors, and problems for the organizers trying to make the budget work.

There is a solution. Keep the major bucket list events as they are. The smaller events should rotate so they are not annual. This would take coordination, much like scheduling meetings we used to have when setting up the hockey league calendar.

Each organization could still take their turn hosting, but it might be on an every two or three year cycle. It will take discipline but there is no reason it won’t work. The path we are on is not sustainable.

It is never going to be perfect.
For as long as I have been sailing (60+ years), there have been a parade of new handicapping systems coming along in the never-ending search for the perfect solution to racing different types of boats together. Get over it, there is no perfect system and it is impossible to have one.

Each time a new rule comes along it is touted as being more equitable than the last. There is a rush to try it that lasts a few years until the next one appears on the scene. The reason is simple, people who aren’t winning think a different rule will change their fortunes.

Unless you are racing one design (and that is not for everybody), you should accept the fact that the system is what it is and go sail. Do the best you can, enjoy the friends you sail with and against, and be happy you are on the water instead of being at a desk somewhere.

What is the best way to win races?
Work on getting good people to sail with you. The human factor is the most important part of any race boat. This does not mean loading your crew from stem to stern with stars, but even one good sailor will have an impact on the whole crew and the results of the team.

The kicker is you need people who are good sailors and fun to be with. Someone who can teach others and works well with crew of varying abilities. They don’t grow on trees but if you start early and ask around you can find them. Often in different classes or kinds of boats.

A word of caution… avoid anyone who is skilled but a yeller, hard on others, and no fun to be around. Winning is never worth putting up with that.

Quality time remaining.

You don’t have to be an octogenarian to realize that we each only have so much time left to enjoy our remaining years. None of us know how many we have, but the older we are, that number continues to shrink. So use our time wisely. Make sure we don’t waste the opportunity to be on the water if that is something we enjoy doing.

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