Last Saturday I went and did some RS Aero frostbite racing at Bristol YC – home of the first, the largest and the most competitive RS Aero frostbite fleet east of the Continental Divide. It was the first time I had sailed since the time I raced with the alligators in Florida back in December. See Annoyingly Quick.
As I half expected, I had basically forgotten how to sail. This happens every year when I go too many weeks without sailing in the winter. And every year I write a similar blog post about how terrible I sailed and all the mistakes I made and blah blah blah. See, for example An Old Man Goes RS Aero Sailing in Rhode Island and 11 Lessons I Learned from Sailing with Fleet 413 on Sunday.
So instead of boring you with yet another post in the “why have I forgotten how to sail” vein, I thought I would take a lesson from Monty Python and look on the bright side of life.
1. I may not have been sailing well but I was sailing the coolest single-handed dinghy on the planet, the RS Aero. So that’s a thing.
2. RS Aero sailors are open-minded, adventurous, fun-loving, forward-looking people. That’s why they sail RS Aeros. It’s good to hang out with RS Aero sailors. Some days hanging out with RS Aero sailors is almost as much fun as sailing the RS Aero. Almost.
3. I didn’t capsize once. Some of the Laser sailors did and one of the RS Aero sailors did. Just saying.
4. I kept racing until the end of the last race. In the days from previous years referenced in the links above, I wimped out after a few races. I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. Or something.
5. According to The Sporting Infleuncer, whatever that means, doing badly in all the races is not failure. “If you are moving forwards, learning, developing, making mistakes you are not failing, only growing and striving towards reaching your potential.” Of course I am.
6. I got more practice than all the sailors who wussed out and didn’t sail last Saturday afternoon.
7. I experimented with a few things. Different approaches to the start line. Different sheeting techniques. Eric Twiname said it’s good to experiment in races. That’s a way to learn faster. You don’t have to try and win every race. Ha ha.
8. There are two sailors in the fleet who don’t (yet) own RS Aeros. They have borrowed/chartered boats for the season. One of them has very quickly adapted to the RS Aero and was winning most of the races. Another one made visible progress during the afternoon. He went from being behind me all the time, to being in front of me all the time. I notice things like that. I am very happy for both of them. If they do well in the races they will be happy. If they are happy they are more likely to buy RS Aeros. Seeing the class grow makes me happy. I have been very happy lately.
9. There is a thing on the Interwebs called the Twitter. You may have heard of it. On Tuesday I found a cool quote on my Twitter machine from a bloke called Jim Afremow. Doctor Jim is a much sought-after mental game coach, licensed professional counselor, and the author of The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive. It says so on his website so it must be true. I liked Doctor Jim’s quote so much that I “re-twittered” it. (I think that’s what you are supposed to do with twitters that you like.)
What? Is he talking about me? “Doing something that is physically hard or emotionally uncomfortable repeatedly, especially when it’s least convenient,” just about sums up frostbite sailing last Saturday. Or all my sailing really. So that’s the absolute best thing about days like Saturday. Who knew that they improve my mental toughness?
Somehow the infamous Chris Arnell of the RS300 393 blog was hovering nearby in the Twitterverse (it’s like magic – I have no idea how it works) and he observed that, “We’re feeling better about ourselves already! Being consciously incompetent is not the same as mental weakness!”
So, to celebrate my new-found awareness of my well-hidden reserves of mental toughness, let’s end with a song.