Sometimes when I am sailing in an open event I'll check to see if anyone with an older boat than mine has beaten me.
Mostly when I haven't done as well as I'd hoped.
It can be comforting to look at the results and secretly think to myself that if I had a newer boat like the guys that finished above me then I might have done a little better.
I was chatting to my father-in-law, who isn't a sailor (and can't really understand why anybody sails) and he asked me how old my boat is. And as I was answering, I got to thinking about Trigger's broom:
This was a very dark moment for me, as I could see another comforting excuse slip away. I still sail with the original hull, obviously, and, as far as I know, the lower mast and the rudder and tiller are original too, but everything else has been updated.
Of course, a lot of top sailors purposely sail boats that are older (or more beaten up) when they are training, so that when they sail a new and well prepared boat everything is easier. Also, they have to work harder for their wins in the older boats, so the importance of boat-handling and strategy and so on are much more important. Pam from Improper Course has written a about this idea already.
Ben Tan (the author/editor of The Complete Introduction to Laser Racing) even recommends training with a plastic bag tied to the rudder to slow the boat down, making everything else you do even more important. And he sailed in the Olympics, so he knows what he's talking about.
None of which helps me. What I need is another excuse as to why other people beat me. And it mustn't be an excuse that implies my sailing isn't good enough.
Because where's the comfort in that?