Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Word on Wednesday sailing

Taken straight from the May edition of Latitude 38: 10 Commandments of Beer Can Racing:

1) Thou shalt not take anything other than safety too seriously. If you
can only remember one commandment, this is the one. Relax, have fun, and
keep it light. Late to the start? So what? Over early? Big deal. No instructions?
Improvise. Too windy? Quit. Not enough wind? Break out the beer.
The point is to have fun, but stay safe. Like the ad says, "Safe boating is
no accident."

2) Thou shalt honor the racing rules if thou knowest them. The ISAF
2009-2012 Racing Rules, unless specifically stated elsewhere in the Sailing
Instructions, is the current rules bible. Few sailors we know have actually
studied it cover to cover: it's about as interesting as reading tax code or the
phone book. For beer can racing, just remember some of the biggies (port
tack boats shall avoid starboard ones; windward boats shall avoid leeward
ones; and outside boats shall give room at the mark). Stay out of the way of
bigger boats, pay your insurance premiums, and keep a low profile unless
you're sure you know what you're doing. Like most things, it boils down to
common sense.

3) Thou shalt not run out of beer. Beer (a.k.a., brewskis, chill pills, thought
cylinders) is the beverage that lends its name to 'beer can' racing; obviously,
you don't want to run out of the frothy nectar. Of course, you can drink
whatever you want out there, but there's a reason these things aren't called
milk bottle races, Coca-Cola can races, hot chocolate races, or something
else. Just why beer is so closely associated with this kind of racing escapes
us at the moment, but it's a tradition we're happy to go along with.

4) Thou shalt not covet thy competitor's boat, sails, equipment, crew
or PHRF rating. No excuses or whining; if you're lucky enough to have a
sailboat, just go use it! You don't need the latest in zircon-encrusted widgetry
or unobtanium sailcloth to have a great time out on the water with your friends.
Even if your boat's a heaving pig, make modest goals and work toward improving
on them from week to week. Or don't - it's only beer can racing.

5) Thou shalt not amp out. No screaming, swearing, or overly aggressive
tactics. Save that stuff for the office or, if you must, for Saturday's 'real' race. If
you lose it in a Friday nighter, you're going to run out of crew - not to mention
friends - in a big hurry. Downing a quick chill pill on the way to the starting
line has been medically proven to have a calming influence on the nerves.

6) Thou shalt not protest thy neighbor. This is extremely tacky at this level
of competition and should be avoided at all costs. Perhaps it's justifiable
if one's boat is damaged and blame needs to be established, but on the
whole, tossing a red flag is the height of bad taste in something as relatively
inconsequential as a beer canner. Besides proving that you're unclear on
the concept of beer can racing, it screws up everybody's evening, including
yours. Don't do it - it's bad karma.

7) Thou shalt not mess up thy boat. Everybody knows some hardcore
weekend warrior who ripped his sails up in a Friday night race and had to
sit out the championship race on Saturday. The point is that it's not worth
risking your boat and gear in such casual competition: like the song says,
you got to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em. Avoid other
boats at all costs, not to mention buoys and other hard objects. If you have
the luxury of two sets of sails, use the old ones.

8) Thou shalt always go to the yacht club afterwards. Part of the gestalt
of beer can races is bellying up to the yacht club bar after the race. Etiquette
demands that you congratulate the winners, as well as buy a round of drinks
for your crew. Besides, the bar is a logical place to see old friends and make
new ones. However, when meeting new sailors, avoid the gung-ho, overly
serious types who rehash the evening in such gory detail that the post
mortem (yawn) takes longer than the race. As much as we enjoy a quick
romp around the cans, there's more to life.

9) Thou shalt bring thy spouse, kids, friends and whoever else wants
to go. Twilight races are great forums for introducing new folks to sailing,
such as your neighbors, out-of-town visitors, co-workers or maybe even
the family dog. Always bring your significant other along, too - coed crews
are happy crews. And don't just make the newcomers watch - give them a
job on the boat. Get everyone involved.

10) Thou shalt not worry; thou shalt be happy. Leave the cell phone in the
car, bring the ghetto blaster. Lighten up, it's not the Big Boat Series. Have
fun, and we'll see you out there!

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