Hooked for life

July 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

Originally published on www.sailinganarchy.com, July 2012

20120725-092346.jpg

There will be a thousand sailing stories told about this year’s Mac and Hook races. Undoubtedly, most will be about the pain and suffering of sitting and spinning in the large windless holes that spotted the lake on day two. And someone will probably declare that lives were saved by ruling out J-30s (among a few other seaworthy keelboats) from one of the races. The other race, I’m sure, is pleased to have them.

But the biggest story, in my view, mustn’t go unnoticed, and it is that the overall winners of the 2012 Hook Race were a father and son team double-handing their mid-70s era Peterson 34 to the best corrected time in any division. Stu and Sam Keys, of Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin, are the supreme, albeit unexpected, champs. The ultimate Hookers. No matter that this year’s fleet was the most competitive in years, featuring Art Mitchel’s Golden Goose (Farr 36 OD) with a 6 second/mile scratch boat handicap, no less than four overall winners in the fleet, and at least two 2-time overall winners in division one, Rick Trisco’s Tango in Blue and my own Syrena.

It would be easy to assume that conditions might have favored the Keys’ boat Thunder, but that would be a large mistake. « Read the rest of this entry »

Hustling BICs vs. Busted Stuff

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Another from C. Crain's series of oil paintings, called "Here Come the Optis"

Another from C. Crain’s series of oil paintings, called “Here Come the Optis” (Click to zoom)

This string probably deserves its own post. How ’bout we call it “Hustling BICs vs. Busted Stuff.”

It all started here: https://savingsailing.com/2012/07/12/opti-haters/

Capt’n Ron on July 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm:

I’ve been in the sail training business for 20 years and although I don’t classify myself as an Opti hater, I do strongly believe that there are more modern day platforms and more fun boats for kids to experience their first sail(s) on.

For example, if I were to take 25 kids and take them for their first sail on an Opti and take those same kids for a sail on an Open followed by a vote on their
preference of boat, the score would be 25-0 in favor of the Open Bic. Comments from the kids would be that the Open Bic is funner, faster, easier, cooler, more comfortable, not to mention – no bailing required!

It’s not that kids can’t learn to sail in an Opti, it’s about making their first experience the best possible and keeping them excited so that they keep coming back.

Why do we have kids learning on a 50 year old platform? Just imagine if you decided to have your kids learn downhill skiing on a pair of 1960 vintage skis. There are many more examples of other sports that have adapted and taken advantage of technology to make it easier and more fun for kids to learn on.

My kids first learned how to sail on an Opti, but once exposed to the O’pen BIC, they never went back.

If we are to get the masses (next generation) excited about sailing and keep them excited, especially given the choices that kids have today, then we’ll have to move away from teaching kids based on a design from 1947. It really is time to move on.

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Opti Haters

July 12, 2012 § 21 Comments

From the series Here Come the Optis, by Curt Crain

From the series Here Come the Optis, by Curt Crain

On the subject of kids learning to sail, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a discussion thread on a sailing website or an op/ed in a sailing magazine that doesn’t include extreme opinions about the Optimist Dinghy (Opti) and other similar one-person prams like the El Toro. Folks either hate them or they’re resigned to them.

Generally, the Opti-resigned assume that the only way for a kid to learn is in a pram, starting precisely at the age of eight. Opti haters blame the boats for scaring kids away, or, at least, for not being enough fun to sail to hold their interest after a time. The resigned often get their cues from people who sell prams. And haters get theirs from people who sell something else.

Of course, neither claim is true. Optis can be a heckuva lot of fun, but they aren’t the only way to learn.

Deeper thinking than rants and promotions takes you to a place where the flaws and the benefits are found in the programs, not the boats. « Read the rest of this entry »

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