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When is enough, enough?

by Mark Jardine 13 Oct 2020 08:00 NZDT
2020 South & Southwest British Youth Sailing Regional Junior Championships © Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com

Here in the UK the nights are drawing in, it's definitely getting colder and as I write this the rain is pouring in a distinctly British way. In a year like no other, the summer has seen a vast number of people enjoying getting out on the water and enjoying everything that sailing has to offer; I'm really hoping that as Australia heads towards its summertime, which officially begins on 1st December, the same thing happens.

It's at this point of the year that I'm stuck with a dilemma. Here's a bit of background and the quandary I have...

My eldest son has been enjoying his sailing immensely, looking forward to every time he can get out in his RS Feva, and he's probably been out on the water in a boat, often with me, more than we've managed to do in many a year. The cornerstone of his sailing is the fun - it's what I've tried to instil into him and all the juniors I help get out on the water - but inevitably he's ended up finding the competitive side of the sport and is really enjoying that. He's done a fair few events over the summer when Covid restrictions have allowed, coming back from them buzzing, and I believe his focus, resilience and self-confidence have benefited.

The question I have is: should I encourage him to continue sailing throughout the winter months? With modern kit it's quite possible to sail all year round and stay relatively warm, and I've no doubt that his standard of sailing would continue to improve, but is this a short term gain that has the potential to put him off becoming a sailor for life?

It's easy to get caught up in the competitive aspect of any sport, and watching the kids thriving out on the water naturally makes me want to provide extra opportunities for him to sail, but there's no doubting it's more fun on a warm and sunny day than on a cold autumn afternoon. Couple that with the increased school workload as he gets older, and it's easy for him to get way too tired to do a full training session on a termtime weekend and not recharge.

Anyone who's read my editorials over the past few months, or seen the webinars I've done with the RYA and Liz Rushall on Participation, will know that I'm all about the enjoyment of sailing, so I'm questioning my judgement continually. When's the right time to give the sailing a break? Should I pack up the Feva for winter and come back to it all with renewed vigour in 2021? Should I just watch out for those glorious autumnal days (please may they happen!) and grab those opportunities for a casual sail? Should we continue with training sessions throughout the winter?

I know I'm not the first parent to go through this, but it's playing on my mind a lot as I don't want him to burn out on sailing.

One group of sailors who are avoiding the issues of autumn, but are at very real risk of burnout, are the America's Cup teams. The final two challengers who were training in the northern hemisphere, INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, have loaded their boats onto Antonov cargo planes, set up base in Auckland, undergone quarantine and are now readying themselves to practice on the Hauraki Gulf where Emirates Team New Zealand and NYYC American Magic are already carving up the water.

The 'moment of truth' is closing rapidly and the first chance we'll get to see competitive action in the AC75s will be America's Cup World Series Auckland and Christmas Race in December. Each team will have their hunches, but it'll be during this event that the teams will find out if they've got their design right. Will they be firing on all cylinders or on the back foot, desperately trying to make changes ahead of The Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series in January and February 2021?

When it comes to designs, John Curnow's editorial last week, 'The Juxtaposition', highlighting the diversity of sailing through the little-known Yamaha 9 and the foiling Nacra 17, has drawn an immense amount of feedback, including a particularly curious reader managing to find the sales brochure for the Yamaha, and noting that it was built between 1973 and 1979 for the Japanese market. I have no doubt that John will be following up this extremely popular story next week!

There's now just under a month until the Vendée Globe, which promises to be an edition like no other. 33 skippers, 19 of whom will be sailing foilers, will be setting off around the globe from Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on 8th November. It's highly likely the winner will be one of the foiling boats, so I thought it was a good time to re-read this highly informative article on foil designs.

Wherever you are, whatever the climate and in whatever craft you choose, please keep enjoying your sailing. Mix things up, try other aspects of the sport, read all about it on Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com, and please, continue to send us your thoughts and feedback!

Mark Jardine
Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com Managing Editor

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