|Why Should You Race?
In our modern world, there are lots of faster and easier ways to get from one place to another than by sailing. People who are attracted to sailing are the type of people who love challenges. Sailing challenges us both physically and mentally, but mostly mentally. Sailors don’t want a machine to do everything for them. They are self-reliant folks, who want to use their own ingenuity to figure out how to do things for themselves. You can’t get anywhere by sail power unless you understand the basics of sail trim, and how the sails interact with the keel and rudder. The more you know about those subjects, the better sailor you will be.
If you really want to learn how to sail, there is no better way to increase your sailing skills than by racing. Racing provides you a strong incentive to make your boat perform to the peak of its design capability. Moreover, by comparing your progress with that of the other boats, you have a means of testing the extent of your success. When the boat next to you is sailing closer to the wind than you, you start looking for adjustments that you can make to your own sails to improve your pointing ability. When you are racing, your pointing ability might be a mere matter of pride of achievement, but when you are trying to claw off a lee shore in blustery winds, it might be a matter of survival for your boat and crew.
Racing also complements the social aspects of sailing. It creates a reason for people to crew for each other, which in turn gives us a chance to get to know the new people on the dock, or people who were previously just passing acquaintances. When racers return to the docks after a race, they like to discuss the interesting and exciting action that occurred during the race, so they can better understand what they did right and what they did wrong, and experience those exciting moments one more time.
In many sailing clubs, only 15-20% of the members participate in the racing program. One of the reasons most frequently heard is, “I sail to relax, and racing is too intense.” Many of our favorite pastimes are competitive in their nature and require intense concentration. We usually think of golf as a relaxing sport, but great beads of perspiration break out on our brows when we are about to hit a $5.00 ball to a green that is surrounded by a water hazard. Likewise, the intensity of tennis, chess, skiing, scuba diving and other sports does not deter us from resorting to those sports as a means of relaxation. Why do we find work-related intensity exhausting, and sports-related intensity invigorating? It is relaxing to turn our thoughts away from serious activities that are of vital importance to others, and upon which our security and livelihood depend. By
focusing our attention on completely frivolous activities that are important only as a matter of our personal pride, we can prevent those work-related activities from intruding on our thoughts. When the weekend is over, and we have to turn our attention back to more serious matters, we are re-invigorated, and better able to cope with occupational stresses.