July 15, 2010

The new way to win

YOU REMEMBER my friend Mike, don’t you? Yes, you do. I wrote about him last Monday. He’s the one who keeps winning sailboat races. I warned him that if he keeps on coming first, he’ll soon have no-one to race against.

Here’s what he has to say in his defense:

“Imagine turning to one of my favorite blogs only to see my reputation posted for the world to see ... humiliating, but quite an honor!

“Anyhow, while I do admit to being competitive, I really am not trying to win all the time — and actually we did achieve a second place last week, to break our run of firsts.

“You should know that I race with a 16-kg Bruce anchor on the bow, with 100 feet of chain and 150 feet of rode attached. There are two other anchors with chain and rode in the lazarette. I filled the water tanks recently and the fuel tank stands at 3/4 full. We could eat for weeks with all the food on board and cook it all with the two full CNG tanks.

“Do you need a 1/4-inch, 24-thread, 2-inch-long stainless-steel bolt, with nut and washers? Or a #6 2.5-inch stainless-steel, oval-head machine screw? Yep, they're probably in the spares kit along with the rebuild kits for the head and water pump.

“I guess I shouldn't be concerned that the boat is only 36 years old and the sail inventory only averages 13 years. I added the 8-hp outboard to the lazarette last week, so I guess we finally found a way to slow down. If not, I guess we'll have to start backwards.

“I will chastise the crew next race if we continue to do well and will pass on your comments about too-frequent winning in hopes of not discouraging others to race.”

Well, now I’m not sure what to think. Here we have an old, overloaded boat with well-used sails, and it keeps winning races. Damn. I never thought of that. In my racing days I always tried for the newest, lightest boat and the best sails I could afford. Stupid, stupid. No wonder I never, ever, won six times in a row.

I should have loaded up with spare parts and more food and heavy propane tanks. I should have topped up the water tanks and brought the saloon cushions back on board. I should have bent on my blown-out cruising sails and crammed a few more crewmembers into the cockpit.

Old and heavy and inefficient. That’s the new formula for winning yacht races. And now I can’t help thinking how selfish Mike was to keep it secret for so long.

Today’s Thought
I always turn to the sports page first ... They record people’s accomplishments; the front page nothing but man’s failure.
— Earl Warren, former Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb #70
Fender size. How fat should your boat fenders be? The old rule says they should have a diameter of 1 inch for every 5 feet of boat length. In other words, 5-inch fenders for a 25-footer, 6-inch footers for a 30-footer and gigantic fenders for a 100-footer.

The latest statistics reveal that 10 percent of auto accidents are caused by people who drink. Therefore, 90 percent of all auto accidents are caused by people who do not drink.
That being so, non-drinkers have nine times as many accidents as drinkers.
Isn’t it about time we banned non-drinkers from the roads?

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