Written by Jonathan Stone
At some point, every Laser sailor has had the experience - the race is on but the wind is building to uncomfortable levels. Do I race?
Part of you wants take it on. The reaches would be a blast; if you could just complete the race, it would be a personal PB, an achievement.
But you also have the ‘skipper’s responsibility’ for your own safety. Maybe you are coming back from an injury that could go wrong and you would end up limping home, the injury made worse. If you needed a tow, it would take a RIB off the course, leaving the remaining fleet less protected.
What's the right decision? It’s never clear, ahead of the race.
A couple of weekends ago, two Double Bay sailors saw the wind building over 20 knots. They opted out, manned the second RIB and, when a fierce squall hit the fleet, they were there, on course. As it turned out, our fleet managed fine. The race was cancelled; our sailors either went into ‘survival upright’ mode or laid their boat over, until the squall passed.
But other club’s fleets were in more strife - small keelboats and old-style skiffs. In wild conditions our RIBs provided reassurance to many crews, and rescued several.
They earned respect and appreciation for the Club, for themselves and - most important - they protected lives.
They contributed to racing in an important way.
So yes, it’s alright not to race.