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Glenn's search for the not so Perfect Race Committee
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JScott
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Jul 10, 2013, 8:26 AM

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Glenn's search for the not so Perfect Race Committee Log-In to Post/Reply

I enjoyed Glenn McCarthy's irony laden article on the Perfect Race Committee, I really did. It was articulate, it was witty and the vignettes had a mixture of pathos and biting humor. It was entertaining with an underlying message designed to resonate with a frustrated sailboat racer after a light air regatta. It was beautifully done with a nice punch line at the end.

The only problem is that I didn't recognize the race committees that he was talking about.

I am a club level racer with neither the ambitions or skill to mount a campaign on the IOC/ISAF track. I am the archetypal weekend warrior. I love the sport of sailboat racing, but I balance it with a demanding business life and a family who I love to spend time with. So the time I can spend on the hobby I enjoy so much is precious to me. Every year my vacations include travelling to four or maybe five away regattas. Over the past 10 years, I have done a selection of different regattas each year from Miami Florida to Kingston, Ontario and everywhere in between. We've experienced some great weather, some average weather and frankly some downright mediocre conditions but we've never experienced the obsessive compulsive, overly perfectionist RC work that Glenn describes in his amusing stories. I'm not one to let truth get in the way of a good story. However the RCs we see on the road seem intent on giving us weekend road warriors a good time.

What is more, over the last five years the RCs seem to have gotten better at giving us a good time. The lines are set up quicker and straighter. The patrol boats are in the right place. The sequences between classes roll more smoothly. Communication with participants is more engaging and, yes, the call to abandon or postpone seem to be made more judiciously. Every RC has different quirks and individual styles. I hope we celebrate that. Its part of the fun of visiting a different location. However we cannot help noticing that RCs are not just "learning on the job". The volunteers who host training for Race Committees are doing a good job.

We don't expect perfect Olympic start lines at our regattas, nor do we get them. But we do get a fair line so that our boats are not all bunched up and banging at one end of the line, and these well trained volunteers have become lightening fast at setting up these lines so we get as many races as possible. Like Glenn, I have sat around bobbing in the starting area with the postponement flag flying in a breeze that my light weight sport boat could move forward on. But nine times out of ten, I am glad that I did because those savvy guys on the RC with their local knowledge predicted correctly that a terrific sea breeze was coming over the James Island Bridge and thirty minutes later we were enjoying a wonderful race. They also get it wrong from time to time but so do I. Ive also been in second place in a race that was abandoned, but it was the right thing to do and it certainly didn't diminish my enjoyment of having got there in the first place. I have had a RC decide the winds are just too light, and they've sent us in. We are weekend warriors, we can have some fun ashore. The need to race for every minute in the day is not paramount for me. For me and my crew, our sailing is part sport and part vacation. We like that RC's respect that.

We also like that RC's endeavor to provide fair, close and exciting racing. I don't think this should only be available to Olympic sailors. Surely even the weekend warrior is entitled to a little "quality" racing. After all, we are giving quality time to be there.

So if I may finish with a vignette of my own. The one regatta I have attended for three out of the last four years is the Bacardi Week and Coral Reef Cup in Miami. Three years ago, on the second day of racing, after the second race was completed and it was still only 12.30pm in glorious conditions, the RC hoisted AP over H, and "follow me", racing postponed- next signal ashore, and radioed the competitors to head back into Coral Reef YC. Boy, did we grumble. Once ashore, we sat at the Tiki bar with further grumbling.... until the storm cell came through flattening palm trees, and ripping awnings.....but NOT destroying any boats. After the cell passed, the Rc informed us that they were going out to the race area again, but in their experience there was not a cat's chance in hell of a breeze so they would be flying the postponement and if any competitors would like to wait ashore they would radio back to the club if something changed with a 45 minute warning harbor start. We had a glorious afternoon as guests of CRYC and three hours later the RC came home after sitting out there in a breathless calm. That is what I call taking care of the sailors.

So , on the record, a big thank you from this weekend warrior to the RCs at the Canadian Olympic Regatta in Kingston, at Marblehead Race Week, at Newport Regatta, at the Cedar Point , at Stamford YC, at American Yacht Club, at Larchmont Yacht Club (and boy does Long Island Sound serve up some doozies), at Raritan YC, at Annapolis YC and Severn Sailing, at Charleston Race Week and at BBYC, CRYC and CGYC in Miami, at St Petersburg YC, at Sarasota Sailing Squadron and at Southern YC in New Orleans.





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