Racing is optional amid pandemic

Published on May 18th, 2020

As San Diego Yacht Club Commodore Brian Thomas framed it for the membership, “Let’s remember we all have different perceptions of the pandemic and we are in this together. So in Corinthian spirit, let’s please respect those differences and be accommodating and sensitive to other members.”

With varying opinion within the membership of that club, this variance exists on a grander scale throughout the United States. When Manhattan Yacht Club (Jersey City, NJ) announced they would begin their racing program on May 26, David Miller from Seattle, WA views the situation much differently:


While I’m aware it is hyperbole, I can think of no simpler illustrative example of this than Russian roulette.

Every time you exit your house and come into contact with another person during a pandemic, you’re spinning the cylinder, pointing the gun at your head, and pulling the trigger. That’s bad enough, but you are also forcing every person you come into contact with to spin the cylinder, put the gun at their own heads, and pull the trigger as well.

Going out of your house in a pandemic is a cost/benefit analysis. Some people HAVE to go to work outside the home and take the subway to do so, so spinning that cylinder is simply unavoidable for them (as it is for healthcare workers and other essential employees). We have to eat, so going to the grocery store is another unavoidable spin and trigger pull.

However, racing is optional.

I bought a brand new boat this season and got to race it just once before the pandemic locked down our local racing season. Our team has now missed dozens of opportunities to race and counting. I acutely feel the pain of not racing and so does my crew, and our virtual happy hours are no substitute.

Despite that, I know racing and otherwise crewed sailing is not an essential activity. Yes, I’m out on the water with my household doublehanding the new boat because as long as I’m careful with my dock neighbors (masks, 6-ft separation, etc), the activity results in no additional cylinder spins and trigger pulls for anyone.

But, I won’t endanger my race crew nor other race crews co-located on my dock nor committee boat volunteers nor club staff because I selfishly want to race my new boat. It’s simply not worth me causing them to spin the cylinder and pull the trigger.

Because as everyone instinctively knows, more spins and more trigger pulls builds ever increasing risk even if the chance of any one trigger pull resulting in you being a Darwinistic statistic is one in six.

The Manhattan Yacht Club is certainly entitled to their opinion, but not all opinions are equal and theirs should be dismissed out of hand as they make all sailors look bad.

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