Sometimes it seems as if cruisers and racers are different breeds. One values comfort and a cocktail at anchor while the other wants screeching heel angles and screaming mark roundings. But some of us think both things are a kick and would like to see more cruisers try racing. But how? And (of course) why?
Sail magazine is offering excellent information on sailboat racing for cruisers, including an explanation of “why” that boils down to:
- It’s fun.
- It makes you a better sailor.
Scuttlebutt‘s Craig Leweck says he tells people, that “To race is only to ‘sail with a purpose.’ Much like most forms of exercise, you begin with a plan to test yourself, and racing is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to assess one’s sailing skills.”
Sail magazine takes it from there, quoting renowned naval architect and yachtsman Uffa Fox, saying “Once you race every fault is pointed out in the way other boats sail away from you, and when you do anything well this too is revealed as you start sailing away from the rest of the fleet.”
AYC offers several entry-level races for cruisers who want to try out racing. There are two “pursuit” races (see the Sail article for an explanation) each year: the Governor’s Cup December 5 and the Tall Cactus on April 23 of next year. In both cases, boats start in reverse order of their PHRF rating (yes, see Sail article) so the start is simple and uncrowded. Then it’s just a matter of sailing the course as fast as you can.
The other opportunity is the “TransLoch” series (named by Tom Errickson), which is a low-pressure, longer-distance race around Lake Pleasant conducted at the same time as the buoy races for the fall and spring series and at the annual Birthday Regatta. Unfortunately, no one signed up for the TransLoch this fall and it’s not being run. Why didn’t they? I’ve heard various explanations, but I think it’s a combination of “tried it and didn’t like it” and “it wasn’t fair and I couldn’t win.” In my opinion, the TransLoch might rise again with some retooling and some new rules that might raise the fun factor. Until then, maybe the cruisers will come out for the TransLoch at the Birthday Regatta or join the racers for the Governor’s Cup and Tall Cactus.
What do you say?