Life lessons from boat racing – sometimes you just get it wrong

Hopefully it doesn’t happen too many times, but it will, For all of the best reasons in the world, you are out in a race and you make some calls that look right at the time, but don’t work out.

Last Wednesday was a prime example – we started the race off fairly well – we were in clean air at the start and hit the line pretty close to the gun and headed off in the direction that we wanted. So far so good. We didn’t see any wind shifts but by the time we got to the uphill pin we were behind. No worries, just keep plugging away. We took out a couple of boats on the wing legs, but the wind velocity was starting to tail off and the committee boat indicated a shorten course was in play, so we rounded the last  downwind mark and headed off up wind to the finish – we were not in bad shape at this point – probably second or third in fleet. That is when the wheels came off.

We rounded the mark and headed off upwind. If you have been following this blog you will know that we don’t have the greatest of upwind angles, we simply cannot outpoint the fleet, so our best tactic is to just go fast and a little lower. If you can avoid being covered, this works just fine – we sail further but get there quicker. Not tonight.

Right off the mark, the wind slowly started to back and we were on a port tack, That meant that we were getting lifted, but the other boats were getting lifted inside of us. Not good – but not much we can do about it, so go for speed. We watched the fleet get away from us and by the time we hit the finish we were in last but one place.

We had done everything right – but this time it simply didn’t work, and in racing as in life that sometimes happen – and all you can do is to try to plan for the eventualities and have back up plans, but as Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, “sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you are the bug”