Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Handy Cure-All

It happens to the best of us.

Every so often, if you are a person with many opportunities to get out on the water, it becomes possible to fall victim to a particularly insidious and tragic disease known as "Sailing-Overload-Syndrome,"or just  S.O.S. for short.

The main symptom of S.O.S. (an acknowledged form of temporary insanity) is selective memory loss. You forget, for example, the satisfaction of predicting a decisive windshift. Also gone is the familiar sound of a loaded-up and groaning rig, and of water hissing away from your transom. You are even robbed of images of your smiling friends and family, bound together and united in common purpose in a way that no other sport can offer.

All you are left with is the pain of a past sunburn, or the knowledge of how much it cost you to fix the scratch some junior sailor left on your hull. In any case, S.O.S. can sometimes make it hard to get off the couch and down to the docks.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have important news. I, William Ricketson, have discovered a sure-fire cure. And it's not what you would expect.

The answer? Volunteer for the race committee!

Yep, I'm serious.

I do not offer this tip because RC work is terrible or some sort of punishment by comparison. Quite the opposite. A great amount of pride and satisfaction can be derived from knowing that the racecourses you helped create and manage were enjoyed by dozens or even hundreds of people. Oh, and sometimes you get a nice little buzz from all the power you have. Always a plus.

Usually, the motivation for helping with RC work is purely selfless. "It's my little way of giving back to the club," noted Doug Wasama, a longtime member of Raritan Yacht Club in New Jersey. I was fortunate enough to join Doug and a large team of others managing the one-design racecourse at the Red Grant Regatta over the weekend.

What really makes working on an RC boat, judge boat, or mark boat rewarding is that it allows you to step back and observe the sport in a way that is often hard when you are competing, or even coaching. You can look around at people's faces. You can see everyone focused on and enjoying their respective tasks. Most importantly, you have a front-row seat to the singular beauty and compelling choreography of a competitive fleet charging towards the next mark.

While I was (thankfully) not suffering from sailing overload at the time, I felt even more energized and excited about hopping back on a racing boat for day two of the Red Grant after watching the action on Saturday. Sometimes taking a bit of time to step back, reflect, and help out some other sailors isn't such a bad decision.

And it just might ensure that, come what may, S.O.S. is never allowed to strike.


PS- Interested in taking your race management skills to the next level? US SAILING, naturally, has you covered.

1 comment:

  1. Offshore sailing courses are great this summer. I need help where to find a freelance instructor for a our team? Thanks