Thursday, 16 August 2007

The Silly Season

Well, the 2007 race season is officially put to bed. To celebrate, I went out for a nice long run on Tuesday night. I haven't run at all since early winter, so I took it easy with like an hour long trail run. And now I can't walk. It is time to focus on some areas which were wildly underrepresented in my life during the season - sailing and boozing. First on the calendar is a trip to Vienna, Budapest and Prague with the FPG and my parents. If we hadn't been excited about the trip before, after we watched this thing on the history of brewing last night, we are totally jacked up for the trip. We will be pretty much drunk and painfully full the whole time. My parents are skilled and experienced in these modes of travel and should provide excellent leadouts for our sprints to the taps.

From Vienna to Budapest, we will travel by boat down the Danube and then stay in a floating hotel. Apparently the mountain biking in Pest (Buda and Pest are kind of two combined cities across the river from one another) is pretty sick, but it's extrememly doubtful we'll get to experience it. I do hope to at least find out something about the riding culture over there. Between beers.

Once home from that, it is off to my former home of Newport, RI for some sailboat racing at the NYYC Swan 42 North American Championships. The kind of boats we're racing look just like this. The team for this event will be made up of some people with whom I sailed the Mumm 30 World Championship in 2000. We had a great time and a very good performance at that event, and elements of that group have had similar experiences together since, so it should be good. The boats (Swan 42s)are a new animal, having just hit the market this year. The members of the New York YC basically put out an RFP for this boat to a bunch of different designers and wound up choosing this one. This will be my first time on one, but I've heard that they're pretty sweet.

Big boat racing like this is a cool game. The workloads are very compartmentalized - the helmsman just drives, the trimmers just trim, the ops people just op. The tactician, my role, sort of goes across the different roles. He sets the strategy and tries to execute it as well as possible by working with other people aboard. There is no physical role for the tactician, it is pretty much entirely done with the mind and the mouth. It's not like small boat sailing where you are pretty much the jack of all trades and it's exceedingly physical the whole time.

Raising the stakes considerably is the fact that my brother is sailing on a competing boat. He will be trimming headsails (jib and spinnaker) for a friend of his from college. A very rich friend o his from college. If you thought bikes were expensive, consider that these boats cost about $300k. Sails cost about $100k and you need to replace about $30k worth of them per year to be competitive, and the owner will generally pay for all travel and daily expenses for the entire 9 man crew. In my case this means airfare, hotel, meals, etc. Various matching gear, ranging from shorts and t-shirts to full Gore-Tex rain suits, is generally provided as well. Pretty much most of the clothes in my closet are embroidered with the name of some boat or another.

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