Which Singlehander?

General chat about boats
Michael Brigg
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Michael Brigg » Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:57 pm

cvrda style social sailing and -I don't know, how do I put this? "winning-is-not-the-main-point"
Now this really is contentious. Nothing annoys me more than the "Taking part is more important" argument as it is too often used as a feeble excuse for lack of effort and general lowering of expectation, and that especially applies to the way it is bandied about in the psyche of sport as we see it in many of our local schools.

Indeed I would point at this attitude for being responsible more than anything for a decline in the broad base of many sports.Even those in which we may have a high pinacle of success. There is a widely held delusion being fostered that you can be what you want to be simply by wanting to. It is a wannabee culture that is fueled by programmes such as Pop Idol and the X Factor, where desparately bad artists are paraded and encouraged by greedy progammers to believe that they can cut the mustard at the highest level when they could not even make the cut for their local High School Musical chorus.

Have these people never heard of the concept that it takes a minimum of 10,000hours of practice to make an olympic champion. Thats about 4hours a day, 7 days a week for about 8 years.

Certainly I have a feeling that there is a very stong ethic in CVRDA races that "wining-at-all-costs-is-not-the-main-point" but I have been assured that the events are undoubtably competitive and one has only to list the acheivements of many of the members in this assotiation to find that many if not most have achieved success at a high, even very high level in a variety of other fields. The vigourous discussions in this forum about handicaps and the like show a high level of enthusiasm for winnig coupled with good humour and desire for fair play on a level playing field.

Like the boats they sail many have seen possibly their pinnacle and are now at a stage of realising that you cannot win races unless someone loses, and so good loosers (not necessarily good sports, but by this I mean "as good as the winner" loosers) are essential if the sport is to remain competitive and thus appetising to participate in.

Mediocrity in sport must not be allowed to masquarade as an inclusive ethic. In contrast to this our sportsmen and women at all levels must respect the effort made by those that have provided them with competition. No-one should be allowed to believe that they can win with "The effortless ease of Gods" (H. Abrahams, in Chariot of the Gods)
Michael Brigg

davidh
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by davidh » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:37 pm

Well said Michael.... and I do indeed like the reference from Chariots of Fire!

It is for this reason that I'm so dead against 'personal' handicapping in sailing.

I did a couple of seasons at a club where this was thought to be the way to go. If you sailed well, worked hard at boat preparation and then made sure that as an individual you practiced.... the reward was for other boats and crews, who did none of the above, to 'close the gap'.

The way to the front should be through excellence and excellence alone. The people who do well at the CVRDA events that I've seen, do so through good sailing...and nothing else

D
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Nigel
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Nigel » Mon Dec 01, 2008 3:30 pm

Oh dear,

perhaps I am being picky but I do see a difference (in something that is an enjoyable hobby rather than a matter of life & death) in doing as well as you can and winning . If I have done the former, I do not really care about the latter. The sun shines, I have a nice sail, get the boat balanced and going fast, good boat handling at the marks, maybe manage to steal a march on some of the others by better tactics, don't turn the boat over - great. Winning is (very occasionally) a nice bonus but nothing more for me. If I do not win, I do not deem the day a failure.

Nigel

P.S. I am not for personal handicaping either.

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Ed
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Ed » Mon Dec 01, 2008 5:51 pm

Michael,

I agree.....I really do....honest........

but....mmmmm

It's just.....I don't think it quite works like that with the CVRDA.

When we started it all....we were careful to name it the cvRda because we loved 'racing' boats and that was what we wanted to do with them. We had all also been to other classic events where the racing was so badly organised or handicaped that it was a total lottery and made the 'racing' quite pointless. We didn't like that. The racing was important and therefore we needed a system for providing good fair racing. This drove the need for the CVRDA handicap and I know there are complaints with it and I sure as hell don't say it is right....but it has provided 10 years of good racing.

But as you point out, there are many sailors in the association with many, many years of competitive and in many cases very successful competitive histories. Is the CVRDA fleet therefore deadly seriously keen about winning? Are we all working on getting through the magic 10,000 hours of time on the water? Largely not! In fact as one CVRDA helm once said to me: "The reason I like sailing with the CVRDA is that when I used to race with the <Big Nat Class>, people expected me to do well, but with the CVRDA, no-one gives a toss, I just get to have fun playing in the boats I used to have to take seriously".

There is one thing, I do agree with.....There is nothing I hate more (and this kind of refers back to earlier SMOD thread) to people who spend a week sailing in the Red Sea, come back, buy a new SMOD and then don't understand it when they come at the back of the fleet....and then a month or two later are buying new sails/re-rigging/swapping boat/swapping class.....anything but spending more time on the water. But just don't understand that to sail well takes a little skill, aptitude and practice.

I am not saying for a moment that any of the fleet are not trying their best to win.....but the majority have been sailing for over 10 years and have done enough winning in their time, to not necessarily need to still put it as the most important part of a good race now.

I also think it is dependent a bit on the boats we sail. If we all sailed Lasers, I dare say we would all put much more onus on being competitive (what else do you do in a Laser?) but many of us choose to sail boats that we know are unlikely to provide us with a winning mount (BUT the handicap should try). You just don't choose Iska (Merlin 6) or IC41 or many others, if you put winning above having fun.

If we were all kids building our 100,000 hrs on the RYA treadmill to success, then I would totally agree with the importance of winning. But I am not a kid. I have spent my time on that treadmill (albeit in another sport) - I have won a lot of races (again unfortunately in another sport) and I just don't want to put my sailing under that kind of pressure.

Don't get me wrong....I love winning! ( I even won something in the IC recently!!!! :-) )

But for me now, I just can't put in the hours to improve my sailing and the honest truth is that I am unlikely to win much more....but does that mean I should stop racing? Surely not.

So I am all for 'taking part' and if I win....great....but I ain't gonna burst a blood-vessel about it. I love my sailing far too much for that.

cheers

eib

ps....I have never heard any club that I have sailed at introduce a personal handicap that has worked. Does anybody know of one? It is quite counter-productive and few if anyone likes it.
Ed Bremner
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Rupert
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Rupert » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:10 pm

I took Charlie's old Mirror out racing yesterday, knowing that I wasn't going to come anywhere near 1st, but that I could have a good try, and be a better Mirror sailor at the end of it. As it was, I was beaten by 4 boats but beat a fair few more than that, including 2 Laser EPS's and a 500, on handicap. The 500 was a surprise, as he had lapped me coming into the finish! (thank goodness for average lap times...) Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I have enjoyed it more if I'd been sailing a boat that stood a chance of winning? Maybe. But maybe I'd have got all uptight and competitive, rather than having a relaxed sail in a very good breeze.
From what I've seen of racing at the cvrda, winning isn't everything, but getting the best out of a boat that last raced in 1975 and was picked up in a jumble sale for a fiver is. There are usually personal battles within the fleet which matter to the competitors as much as winning does. I guess there is a difference between trying one's best and not winning and just trolling around at the back and then complaining that you didn't win. If you try your best but are beaten by someone showing greater skill on the day, then there is usually greater satisfaction from the performance than is got from winning when not sailing very well, simply through luck or having the right boat for the conditions.
Rupert

Michael Brigg
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Michael Brigg » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:55 pm

I Said:
Nothing annoys me more than the "Taking part is more important" argument as it is too often used as a feeble excuse for lack of effort
Correction. What I meant was "If" or perhaps "When..."

Of course taking part is more important. As I said if no one loses then no one wins either. More films I'm afraid but it comes down to Incrediboy (aka Syndrome) from that superb film "The Incredibles" to say one of the truest quotes of the film. In his veangeful crusade against the arrogant Incredibles who indeed could win with the effortless ease of Gods, he tells us:

Image"If everyone is special, then Nobody's special!"

Ed I am in full agreement with you on this, and David also. No one wants to be humiliated by personal handicapping in a championship setting, but many sports clubs recognise that there is some benefit to rewarding effort. Swimming clubs have "Aggregate cups that calculate scores on a basis of improvement of Personal best times, and Team games can often gain from members of lesser skill simply by the inspirational ffect that individual personal effort can have on the team as a whole.

It is more difficult to achieve this in the context of sailing unless events like Random pairs team racing or team points are used. (The concept of team racing per se would I am sure be detrimental to classic boats where avoidance of collision is critically important)

You cannot truly enjoy winning a race or event unless in different circumstances having sailed equally hard you could look at your opponent with mutual respect and salute the better man on the day and still say what a good day's sailing you had.
Last edited by Michael Brigg on Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Pat
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Pat » Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:56 pm

Personal handicapping does have the advantage of encouraging the novices - we have a personal handicap scale at Shearwater but, importantly, it only applies to certain events or series, in particular the very popular summer Tuesday evening sail-and-beer series and this year we seem to have had a keener crop of mature novices than before.

I do feel the RYA is missing the mark by ignoring the "grey economy" and "empty nesters" who make up so much of club racing. With finances more stable, mortgages often paid off and less demands on funds we have more money for sailing than the younger families and I expect the credit crunch to emphasise this.

I've found more people are put off club racing by the attitude on the water of experienced sailors - shouting at novices doesn't help if they don't know port from starboard. Things could be improved by more novice training in clubs - sessions in the clubhouse and on the water to teach the basic rules and put them into practise in controlled situations. This is something the RYA could get more involved in - I know they do some, but maybe more focus on racing training for novices would help raise the number of club racers.

With the new rules out for 2009-2012 it is a good opportunity for this and to retrain and try to break the bad habits of those long time racers who still think he who shouts loudest gets right of way.

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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by jpa_wfsc » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:21 pm

mmm - I did not mean to stir people up here! In my mind was the rather pleasant memories of sailing against (with) you people at Netley and Whitefriars (the only cvrda meetings I have got to thus far) and that the shared values of the cvrda are more important to me than who wins. It does not matter to me that for others, winning is of higher importance.

On reflection I do feel I agree more with the phrase 'not wining at any cost' over my rather clumsy attempt "it does not matter about wiunning" to say what Rupert and others later said much better - that you can have a very good deal of fun competing with those around you - weather they be at the top 5, middle or bottom 5 of the results.

As Rupert could I am sure confirm to you, I do sail very competitively at times (usually when in a SMOD because of the class racing that then goes on) - but I'm just not as good at it as he is.
j./

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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by nprice » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:35 pm

We have had personal handicaps at Ranelagh, for our handicap series races, for a couple of years now and it seems to work well with the better sailors generally doing better and winning series more often than the less talented. If you win a race your handicap gets reduced and if you finish last, it goes up. It means that some sailors who might never win anything get a taste of winning and are encouraged. Trophy races are sailed without personal handicaps so the better sailors have those as well to show their merit. Class prizes also do not have personal handicaps.
More important to series winning is to sail often so you can throw away your worst results. This also encourages participation.
Nick
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Garry R » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:00 am

The CVRDA has enabled/encouraged me to take up sailing at the belated age of 54 (now almost 58) in a boat that simply gives me a lot of joy on and off the water. If I can get past the guy who beat me in the last race then that's a victory. If not then there is the next race to look forward to.

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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by DavidC » Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:51 am

Perhaps it's not the start that counts but the ashore.

If you are entering a race then it should be given 100% commitment to trying to win (even if in the deepest part of your heart you know you won't) and of course all the sailing rules to ensure that everyone is fair. At least trying 100% is the whole point of a race

However, for the ethos of our events it's what you do after the finish. Not the intense debrief and depression of not winning as seen in many intense classes, but the "hey Ho", "where is my beer", "wasn't that fun", "what's to eat" and if you won great, if not there is always a boat to look at :D

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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by JimC » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:23 pm

Hmm, my racing to preparation ratio with the vintage boat is already pretty disgraceful due to the maintenance overhead... if you think I should practice as well it will get quite ridiculous! But then I'm firmly in the "turn up for the event, not the results" category: I have a modern boat for taking the racing seriously...

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Ancient Geek
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Ancient Geek » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:24 pm

One of the main points of "preparation" is surely that it prevents breakdowns and thus the trunkating of our time spent afloat - though gear failures do remove one excuse!
For me one of the best times are that post race hour in the cockpit -alone- or on point or beach just looking at the water alone, with just a beverage of choice, thinking how we could have done it better, how lucky we were, how clever we had or had not been and looking foreward to the next time, perhaps remembering Sir Francis Drakes letter to Lord Walsingham which formed part of the daily prayer at my school.
I have never really understood the apres sailing/skiing piss up scene.
A post race cuppa is different.
Preparation prevents dissapointment, contemplation increases the enjoyment.
Simples.

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Ancient Geek
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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by Ancient Geek » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:25 pm

One of the main points of "preparation" is surely that it prevents breakdowns and thus the trunkating of our time spent afloat - though gear failures do remove one excuse!
For me one of the best times are that post race hour in the cockpit -alone- or on point or beach just looking at the water alone, with just a beverage of choice, thinking how we could have done it better, how lucky we were, how clever we had or had not been and looking foreward to the next time, perhaps remembering Sir Francis Drakes letter to Lord Walsingham which formed part of the daily prayer at my school.
I have never really understood the apres sailing/skiing piss up scene.
A post race cuppa is different.
Preparation prevents dissapointment, contemplation increases the enjoyment.
Simples.

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Re: Which Singlehander?

Post by JimC » Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:59 am

Ancient Geek wrote:One of the main points of "preparation" is surely that it prevents breakdowns and thus the trunkating of our time spent afloat - though gear failures do remove one excuse!
Depends on the boat to a good extent and your boat maintenance philosophy. My prime aim is to keep the boat, which has already exceeded design life by about 3,000% (yes three thousand percent) in as original condition as possible without being unsafe to sail in suitable conditions. So I will not do the kind of maintenance work that would be necessary to make her reliable in what I would class as all normal racing conditions because it would compromise the originality too much. This means I pay a price in both extra work and in on the water time, which I think is worth paying. With different boats is appropriate to strike different balances of course...

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