Taking Time Before Sailing

Another little habit of mine that I did before racing on the Estuary was that, almost no matter how late I was running, I would stop the car on the estuary road, get out, and have a look at the race area.

I did this every single time I went to the club unless I was so late that I was in danger of missing the start.

I didn't wait till I got to the club, because I'd always like to chat to other sailors before the start, or I'd have my head buried in my boat getting it set up. There were too many distractions - it is far more interesting to catch up with other people than it is to solemnly look out over the water, but I've always found it a really useful thing to do.

It helps me get a real sense of the likely conditions: I get the chance to look at the clouds and what they're up to, to see where the puffs are forming; to see what the chop is like; to see how the wind compares to the forecast and to have a guess as to why it might be different from what was predicted. It gets my head in the right place, and sets me up for the race ahead.

Of course, it is easier to analyse conditions when it's not foggy...

Of course, it is easier to analyse conditions when it's not foggy...

I suspect it comes from my dad. Often at Open Meetings he would wander off while I was chatting to my friends, and come back and speak to me about what was happening on the water. All to often his advice would go in one ear and out the other, but sometimes I'd listen and, even more rarely, I'd actually act on his advice. He's partly responsible for at least one big race win because of these pre-race moments, and more than likely many more that I've since forgotten.

I'm sure other members of the Estuary club have driven past me whilst I'm standing on the side of the road, solemnly gazing over the water. They probably think I'm odd, although they've been too polite to say it. But I don't mind if they do - I know it helps me do better, so I stick to it whenever I can.

And anyway, they'd be right. I am odd. That's just me.

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