When I played tennis (for decades), I preferred singles to doubles. My asymmetrical style of play was more suited to not having opponents encamped on the net. But more importantly, I always tried too hard at doubles and such striving occasioned more frequent injuries.
In sailing, single-handed racing appeals most to me, but I am too old now for Lasers. Still, smaller is better. I never subscribed to the old saw that a man should always own more LOA in feet than he is aged in years. Smaller boats, smaller crew. The larger the boat, the more assignments I resent not being able to perform any better than my crew.
The most anxious moment for me is always how many crew will show up for a race. It's an unreal worry. My crew is golden. They can be counted on. But these are trying financial times, and pressures on the smart people in our group can be unpredictable and unsurmountable. Otherwise, I am confident they epitomize the bumpersticker that reads,
I'D RATHER BE SAILING
Because of absences, I have felt it advisable to overbook crew. That's better than having to cold-call fill-ins. You owe it to the crew that shows up not to be shorthanded for ambient conditions. OTOH, crew doesn't like a crowded boat. Too many aboard one week can cause you to have too few the next. As a way to re-distribute responsibility for attaining the right boatload, I have taken to group emails ('Reply to All'). I tried a ship's log site, but most people eschew anything that rhymes with 'blog'.
Underway, I feel I am in charge. But guest rail meat might never know it. Controversy spills out over tactics, bearings, sail trim, etc. There used to be references as to a deleterious event five minutes prior, but that's a diminishing problem. Over the years with basically the same great people, I have learned to hold my counsel and remain aloof from these conversations. Being the guy who makes the call requires concentration that this separation affords. Inward personal satisfaction ultimately comes whenever a contested call is validated in the next moment: unexpectedly an adversary is crossed or a mark is fetched.
Sometimes it helps to explain reasons for what I'm trying to do. Oftentimes it helps just to give the biggest mouth a bigger assignment to keep its mind and hands busier. Occasionally, like last night, I give up the helm on the last leg to go to the head and to secure some electronic gadget. Increasingly, it feels good to do that.
I have complete confidence in everyone aboard. Unsolicited advice, complaining and even carping - there's less of that as the years go by - are all signs of concern about the boat's performance. Would I have it any other way? Everyone aboard is a competent and competitive person in his/her own professional world. And their mutual respect for each other precludes blame-gaming. I am extremely fortunate to have them invest some precious hours or even occasionally risk their precious lives on my boat. They are entitled to their opinion.
They are not entitled to mine. That's what this blog is all about.
Now, about that clusterfook last night......