Lake-side thoughts: When a Race Isn’t a Race

Day 6 … Sailing race start sounded at 2:30pm just minutes after we made a final pass across to the far side of the lake and about 20 seconds after the wind died. We blew our start. Bad positioning compounded with a stillness in the air. My son is however pretty skillful and we went from the back of the pack to the middle and then edged towards the front by the end. No ribbon, but respectable.

As crew on the sunfish, my job is sit still, move when asked, and stay out of the way.  In my subservient silence, I pondered whether “race” was the right word to use since it seemed we were “floating” more than racing.  Perhaps more to the point, the race was far from “equal” in that you had a wide stretch of experience levels in the captains and the crews and quality of boats. You had a variety of ages involved. Can you have a race with that many variables?

After the race, my son – and a quite a few of the other captains for that matter – enumerated the reasons for the poor showing (aka not winning). The boat, the sail, the other sailors, the starting position.  Apparently the boat is the critical edge.

So I wanted to ask my son with so much against us why did we race? And if the winner was the “lucky one” (great boat, caught the win and had lady luck on board) then why is the win important?  Are maybe some things called races, just simply entertainment? Hey, I was entertained.