Trigger’s Broom and My Ever-Shrinking List of Sailing Excuses

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.

So, philosophically speaking, am I really sailing a boat that is older than the boats ahead of me, or am I slowly but surely building my own ship of Theseus?

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?

2 thoughts on “Trigger’s Broom and My Ever-Shrinking List of Sailing Excuses

  1. Ha ha. I do a similar thing. I check to see if anyone older than me has beaten me. As my friend, the current Great Grandmaster World Champion, often sails the same events as me, and as he is 10 years older than me, the answer is usually YES.

    And we all need excuses. Unfortunately they all usually come down to the fact that the other sailors are either smarter, fitter, better prepared, are working harder, are more committed, have a better mental attitude or they are simply faster than me.

    Then I fall back on working out that I am the first sailor exactly my age, the first sailor born in the UK, the first sailor who also ran a half marathon this month, the first sailor who owns a Subaru… or something equally desperate.

    On Sunday I actually won a race. The sixth race of the day I think. So I called it a day and sailed back to the dock even though there were more races planned. Now I am basking in the glow of being a winner. The longer I can go before racing again the longer the glow will last. Maybe I should just quit Laser sailing altogether?

    • Congratulations on the race win – you should definitely bask in the glory. The problem is, sooner rather than later you’ll want to do it again so quitting isn’t really an option.

      On the plus side, however, should you not win next time out it sounds like you have lots of solid excuses lined up. I’m going to borrow some of them myself.

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