Do Your Turns, Already
Do Your Turns, Already
Veteran Thistle sailor Chris Laborde reminds us to uphold—and enforce—the rules of the road. "First Beat" from our April 14, 2010, SW eNewsletter
I'm coming off a March racing streak of two midwinters and another great regatta in between, all in Florida. The weather was colder than usual, but the friendships were as warm as ever and the racing was great. But I had the same distressing conversation over and over again:
Other guy: Today this boat fouled us and they didn't do their circles.
Me: Did you hail, "Protest"?
Me: Why not?
OG: I felt they should have done their circles without me having to force them to, and I didn't want to make a big deal out of it.It's our duty as stewards of the sport to uphold the rules. Should we have to tell folks to do their turns? No. But, these days, we do. In the classes in which I compete, there seems to be a regrettable new standard: "If nobody saw it, it didn't happen." And worse, "If nobody forces me to do circles, then I don't have to."
In sailing, you can get away with all sorts of rules infractions. But are you really getting away with it? I take to heart the adage that winning without the respect of your competition isn't winning. At the end of a regatta, what do we remember? Fun times, maybe a couple of good races, and, unfortunately, instances of poor sportsmanship. Looking back at all the races I've sailed over the years, I remember a couple of victories, a couple of times I did something I shouldn't have, great victories by my friends, the parties and bar adventures, and of course the times I got fouled horribly and the bad guy got away with it.
We can't ignore the negative impact rule-flaunting has on our sport, especially at the amateur level. When sailors sit down to figure out where they want to spend their ever-shrinking recreation budgets, many factors come into play. We consider the costs, but we also consider less tangible factors, like the type of people with whom we're spending our precious free time. In many cases, the decision of whether to keep sailing comes down to a gut feeling that we later justify with logical facts. It's at these times, I think, that poor sportsmanship causes us to lose on-the-fence sailors.