March Notes from Commodore
Like many of you, I started sailing as a youth, spending just about every weekend of the season on the water falling in love with dinghy racing. As teenagers, my brother and I started pursuing our area’s Quarter Finals in Sears Cup. My mom drove us to as many regattas as possible because we loved sailing and wanted to sharpen our skills, knowing one is only as good as their competition. Looking back, I see there were a couple of times where a more seasoned competitor got the best of us on the race course because our knowledge of the rules was not as strong, or we succumbed to their authoritative voice in the heat of the moment. Knowing the intricacies of the rules would have helped, and that’s the message I recently shared with our junior and novice sailors prior to the race management and judges training courses we held at our club.
When we scheduled the One-Day Race Management Seminar at our club earlier this year, many of the people I expected to sign up did, but we still had plenty of slots available. I called several of our junior and newer sailors and suggested they attend the class not with the mindset of taking and passing the test, but as a learning experience. The more they understand the rules and race course, the better prepared they will feel, and the easier it will be to concentrate on honing their skills when they are on the water. Following the class, one of the adult novice sailors said he was so appreciative of the information, he plans to take the seminar again with the intention of taking the test to become certified.
We offered the One-Day Judges Seminar the same weekend as the One-Day Race Management Seminar, which made for a full, and very successful weekend. Our club is fortunate to have the likes of International Judge Means Davis and National Judge Carl Owens, but not much of a succession plan. Recognizing the qualities needed for a judge, including the proper temperament, firmness, tact, reasoning and sound judgement, among others, we decided on a list of people to contact. Several people I contacted were surprised at being considered, and one person was so flattered to be asked, she said she saved the message! Not everyone said yes, but enough people did that we more than doubled our number of targeted participants.
Some sailors are naturally drawn to on-the-water competition, and others are drawn to the race management side, but there are many benefits to cross training. My wife confirmed this recently as well. For the past 18 years, she has often crewed with me in club races. Last year, she took the Adult Learn to Sail class at our club, which gave her a lot of tiller time. She says her time steering now makes her a better crew because she has a greater understanding of sailing from a skipper’s point of view.
In short, knowledge is power. Take advantage of the various courses offered by SAYRA & US Sailing to increase your knowledge and encourage others to do the same. The courses offered include: Race Management, Judging, Levels 1-3 Instructor Training, and Safe Power Boating, among others. Switch positions in the boat once in a while and view the course from another vantage point. It will help each of you grow in your lifelong sailing journey!