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Old 10-11-2008, 13:11   #31
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Always something to learn.
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Old 10-11-2008, 14:39   #32
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Having done both club racing and cruising I can agree with the suggestion that racing will improve your ability to get the most performance out of your boat. On the other hand, in my experience cruisers tend to be better at the skills that are essential for cruising: navigation, reefing sails, sail trim and headings geared to providing a more comfortable passage and preservation of boat and rig rather than ultimate performance, making repairs underway and/or coping with breakages, heaving to and other storm tactics, and finally anchoring.

It should also be noted that most cruisers will still get a little 'racey' when there is another comparable boat on the same relative heading - no, there is no rating rule to ensure comparable performance, but then again the cruiser is apt to be much more heavily laden and hence, would be unfairly penalized by the ratings. Nevertheless, even when cruising there are opportunities to hone or maintain your skills at sail trim. Further, as has already been pointed out, there are also numerous rallys that allow for real, long distance competition by the cruising crowd.

In the end result, any suggestion that racers are generally better sailors than long-distance cruisers is rather myopic, in my opinion. Sailing involves much more than sail trim and helming to get the optimum performance out of a boat over a relatively short distance.

Brad
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Old 10-11-2008, 18:09   #33
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I come from a racing background and agree with the general premise that there is plenty that racers can learn from cruisers, and plenty that cruisers can learn from racers.

Racing teaches a high level of skill in specific areas - sail trim, sail handling / sail change, etc. but can be very deficient in other areas like for example, boat handling under motor - specifically docking / berthing... I, for example, thought i was a pretty good mainsheet trimmer, but when I first brought my 40' boat, I had never taken a boat in or out of a marina berth... it used to scare me sh1tless every time I had to bring the boat in & out of the berth (I'm pretty comfortable with it now ).

The point being that coming from racing I could do lots of things that most cruisers wouldn't even contemplate (peeling kites, fancy hoists and drops, sail trim to the nth degree.)... but was completely deficient in other areas that most cruisers would be very comfortable in (docking, anchoring, motor skills, radio skills, etc.)
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Old 07-12-2008, 18:34   #34
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cruisers learning from racing

I am new to sailing and decided to enter into the club races this year to improve my sailing skills. In spite of the fact that I was consistently last i felt it was worth the effort as i learned more about my boat in those few races than i would from a full season of just cruising around the bay. Most of the more seasoned competitors are a wealth of knowledge and are more than willing to share with you. I would say that if you are new to sailing like me or have a new boat you want to test the limits of I would say a few races would go a long way to improving your sailing skills. Keep your bilge dry. Bill
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Old 07-12-2008, 18:58   #35
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The biggest difference in the skill sets...

...is that you'll never be a great racer unless you've developed strategic arrogance, and you'll never be a great cruiser unless you've developed genuine humility.

Sail trim is the easy part.
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Old 07-12-2008, 20:51   #36
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Racing's lessons

Despite the vituperative trend in this thread, I'll respond to Gord's question instead of badmouthing those dirty scumbag racers !

First, IMHO (actually, I suspect that neither I nor most other users of that expression are really very humble), the best lessons are learned not crewing on someone else's boat, but by taking your very own CRUISING boat out and entering some club races. This way, you are in control of the dreaded shouting, you make the decisions and then observe their results, you learn to use all those adjustable thingumbobs on your decks and masts, and very likely, you will become a more competent sailor. You might learn that being over canvased is not fast, that big heeling angles are not fast, and that driving the boat so hard that gear breaks is not fast in the long run... all of these lessons are directly aplicable to cruising.

The need to hit the starting line even in somewhat inclement weather may give you some good experience, too, and the need to somehow get the boat to actually sail to windward (something a great many cruisers usually do under power) may teach you a skill that saves your butt on a lee shore with a dead engine some stormy cruising night.

On the other end of the spectrum, raciing may teach you to sail your boat in very light airs, 'cause you can't just turn on the donk whenever the speed drops below 4 knots (or whatever). If you learn that skill, and equip your cruising boat with the necessary gear to practice it, you might be able to opt out of the "motor boats with masts" gang that we see each time the wind drops below about 15 knots.

I might add that none of these activities will necessarily lead to winning races, even at the club level, but they will likely lead to being a better cruising sailor in your very own cruising boat.

And finally, none of them will necessarily make you into an insensitive, shouting, beer-swilling jerk, either!

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:28   #37
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racing versus cruising

It is axiomatic that whenever any two sailboats are heading in the same direction they are racing. We just can't help ourselves.
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Old 08-12-2008, 08:58   #38
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Racing on someone else's boat = stay out of the way and shut up
Racing your own boat on your own = the blind following the rest of the boats blindly

Getting a racer on your boat for club races = priceless...
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Old 08-12-2008, 09:22   #39
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please don't interpret...

...my remarks as vituperation against racers. I'm Faculty Adviser for the sailing team at the university where I teach, and spent several decades racing competitively prior to discovering cruising. There is a soft spot in my heart for those who spend upwards of 95% of their sailing time hiking out in the spray.

Just happy to be huddled behind the dodger these days, especially when my heavy cruiser, with a dink in the davits and kayaks on the foredeck, is able to waterline some poor sportboat having trouble bashing through the chop. Is that vituperation?
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