Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thirty Years Ago: Three Championships

Thirty years ago, starting August 15th, I sailed three World Championships, in two dinghy classes, in the space of five weeks. It was a simpler era, of simpler sailing dinghies, of amateurs that trained mostly by competing on weekends, and, if you just went out sailing, there was no training regimen, you were just out there for fun. Looking back now, that mid-August to mid-September, I was probably at the peak of my sailboat racing prowess; I was sailing fit, I had been hammering away at dinghy racing for the better part of ten years prior in various dinghies. Make no mistake, I'm not World Champion caliber; not mentally tough enough, not obsessively focused, my ego not wrapped around my performance on the race course. But I was good enough to steal a race here and there, to put up a series podium finish every so often.

Changes were afoot; I'd been married four years, I had a one year old son and my wife, the saint she has always been, was 7 1/2 months pregnant with twins. My footloose sailing lifestyle was about to wrap up for family and some sort of career. But then and now there still remains those three championships of 1981, August through September, racing with a band of brothers, both teammates and competitors, memories still strong to this very day.


tillerman said...

Wow. Tell us more.

Windrustler said...

Ahhh, Rod,
That was a year. We won the Team Races, It blew like Hades in the 14 Worlds - in Annapolis of all places!
We got married that year (yikes - a 30th anniv. on Monday!) and the week after our honeymoon we had 2 Japanese, non English speaking guests out at "Eagle Hill" for 3 weeks. Welcome to wedded Bliss, Lucy.
Your observation about the less compulsive rigor of racing back the was right on the money. A few had it but worked hard to disguise it. It was "cooler" to be more of a distracted, bobble head "savant" back then (or was that just me?).
Now I have to wonder about all the coaching, the savage intensity by so many, the investment in $ and time and the fact that it's mostly in keelboats. Different time for sure.
I have to say, I like the "mean sunglasses" racing "scene" much less today (but enjoy my racing every bit as much as I did 30 years ago). The expensive gear, energy and balls to the wallness I see displayed every day in Sailing Anarchy just makes me want to go cut my grass. The longer I compete in sailboat racing, the more I admire and want to be like the "Bob Reeves" generation before us.
Thanks for the reminder of better days, Rod.

tillerman said...

Summer of '81. Hmmm. Think that was the summer I learned to sail at Minorca Sailing in the Med. And my wife and I won the beginners' race at the end of the holiday. Not quite World Championship standard that year but I've done a few in the intervening 30 years.