Friday, October 12, 2007

Water Chess

5, 4,1, Blast off! is the starting sequence. The two biggest rules on the starting line are to get clear air and to pump your heart out. The start is where the chess game of all sailboat racing begins. On the start, you can see the confidence of the skipper as she dances with the wind in a small area surrounded by the committee boat (one end line of start line) and all the other competitors. Note: the other end of the start line is called the pin end and is always to left of the committee boat. Everyone jockeys for what they perceive as a favored position. Most of the time hugging the committee boat trying to get as close as they can without hitting it, or getting caught in its wind shadow. Once you have your ideal position you have to defend it just like you defend your king and your queen. A lot can happen in 5 minutes. Then the flag goes down, the whistle blows and you need to be crossing that start line with boat speed at that very moment.
In the mental game of sailing, a good start or bad start can set the tone of the race for a skipper. Staying mentally focused at each and every leg of the course for the duration of the (roughly 30 minute) race is incredibly challenging. As stated before, racing a good race has do with limiting the SS (Skipper Stupidity) Factor. But, really one of the biggest challenges is to be able to make a mistake and to keep going, focusing on the next task at hand instead of the mistake. One check (one mistake) doesn't mean you've lost, it just means you have less room for error, so now it's really time to focus. A skipper has to believe that they can do each move perfectly just as they have practiced a 1,000 times. As the pawns (wind and other competitors) move positions, a skipper needs to constantly examine her game plan, explore risk, and choose the best possible course. This chess game is one of the many things I love about racing.

Official Race Results

Hopefully, the pawns and the stars will be in my favor. I'm ready to make a checkmate or two...

Denise Parris, USA 235