Sunday, March 13, 2011


I know I have been very, very remiss in writing for this blog, but finally when there is something good to write about, I am scooped by Tillerman! It’s not so much that he said what I have to say, but that he used the photo at the center of my story. The photo is from last week’s Sailfit seminar which I attended. It was posted on the Sailfit facebook page, but incorrectly attributed to Jody …… There is no need to name the actual sailor, but he is one of the group of five friends from New England who attended the seminar.

Aside from the obvious entertainment value, the whole episode has an important lesson to teach about sailing.

The question is how to sail a laser without actually being in it. One possibility is to just fall off and let the boat sail itself. I’m sure that it takes remarkable skill to trim the sails and adjust the steering just right to keep the boat sailing after abandoning ship, but the better it is done, the longer the swim to ever get back together with the boat again.

A second possibility as one departs the boat is holding onto the mainsheet. The primary virtue of this approach is to stay in touch with the boat until it capsizes. (But, maybe there is another possibility. I wonder if it is possible to adjust the amount of body drag to achieve correct sail trim and keep the boat upright and going. Any volunteers to try this out?) Anyway…… this seems to be the preferred method so long as one holds on with the hands and does not wrap the line around arms, legs, or torso, which could cause some serious problems.

The third, but not very desirable method is holding onto the tiller extension. This seems to have been tried many times, and is apparently the best way to break a high performance carbon fiber tiller. Aluminum tillers don’t fare much better, except that they allow the sailor to stay connected to his boat. Holding onto the tiller extension was the method employed in the photo. It had two immediate results. The boat capsized (eventually) and the aluminum tiller looked like this:


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  2. My attribution to Jody Machio was of course in the spirit of post-modernist homage and was meant as a sincere tribute to her unpretentious heroic stature in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes. We grieve for Jody and mourn the loss of her grace and dignity, her fierce sense of privacy, and the power of her silence.

    Sorry to scoop you but when I saw that photo the words, "Where have you gone Jody Machio?" just popped into my head.