Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Two Race Regatta? - “It’s not about the sailing.”

My one annual foray back into Flying Scot sailing is an annual regatta in upstate New York. Last weekend I went, again, for about the 20th time, and had a good time. But a two race regatta? In winds of 0 – crazy? Predictable winds of 0 – crazy, I might add. I expected no wind, like the last time I went two years ago, and the time before that, but I went anyway.

It may be a defective memory, but I seem to remember many years when the scheduled five races actually happened. I remember at least three occasions where the wind was 15 – 20+. Has climate change forever altered this regatta? Back in the day, this was a 45 boat regatta with the reputation for being the best Flying Scot regatta in the Northeast. Last year, numbers were way down, and this year, there were 26 boats. Word has gotten out that this is a no wind regatta, and despite the absolutely great hospitality, some sailors seem to want wind and sailing at their regattas.

So why do I go? The obvious reason is that it is a social event, like a class reunion with a sailing class in which I spent twenty years. It’s nice to travel to an event where, like at Cheers, “everybody knows your name.” The real reason for me is that it’s a chance – or maybe just a hope - to sail with my son. He wants to go, so we go. And the reason he wants to go is to meet up with his long time regatta friends who live 300 miles away.

When my kids were quite young, it was standard practice to drag them to regattas where they were frequently grouped together with a common baby sitter while the parents sailed. The sure-fire activity to keep my son entertained was to play with LEGOs. It turned out that LEGOs seemed to have broad appeal, and a group of boys seemed to bond around their LEGOs. Somehow my son seemed to develop stronger friendships with this group than with any of the kids at home. His “sailing” friends became his best friends. Two of the group were local for us, living in the next town, and two lived in western New York. The local kids began to hang out regularly at our local yacht club and have now become best of friends, but all five have remained good friends as they have matured from LEGO kids into beer swilling college students and computer geeks. When they meet up these days, it is as if they can pick up the conversation from wherever it ended the previous year.

So we put up with no wind, and crazy races where we are stalled and those 10 yards away have little zephyrs and are sailing past us, or where the lead boat and last boat can switch places in 180 degree wind shifts. We optimistically hope for wind when we should know better. We spend far more time waiting to sail than sailing. And somehow, we like it.

As my son said, “It’s not about the sailing.”

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