Thirty-five years ago, I mentioned getting into sailboat racing to a sailor I carpooled with. His response: “That’s an oxymoron; farmers plow fields at higher speeds.” We raced motorcycles at the time and were addicted to the adrenaline. Sailboat racing is no less addictive, and you can improve your results long after your physical strength goes in decline. OK, to be fair, windsurfers are quite physically demanding. However most club-level racing in most boats is 30 percent physical, with the remainder technique and analysis.
In most forms of racing, the “track” and the forces of nature are more or less constant and have little effect on your ranking during the day. Not true with most sail racing venues. Wind strength and direction is highly variable any time wind flows over a land mass. The currents vary with tidal flow and water depth. These forces will have a bigger impact on your time than anything else — boat design, sail trim, even skill level. Imagine a bicycle race where one racer goes uphill into a head wind, and another downhill with the wind at his back — no contest!
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