Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Competition Vs Fun?

BoatBrenton1 April 2021

For years Radio Sailing been torn between two schools of thought, Competition Vs Fun.  This has been discussed as if they were somehow opposites, as if you are too competitive, apply the rules too seriously, that the fun in the sport disappears somehow.  I have never subscribed to this but plenty do, clubs have fractured over it, class and club cultures differ on this.  From time to time the subject comes up again but ends up back in the too hard basket.

Then just last week I spotted Brenton, the head of the QRYA Marketing Department in our ground floor cafeteria.  His Italian suit and expensive haircut consumed but a small chunk of his six-figure salary.  I tried to get away but he came over to my table and said he said he was coming to see me anyway.  Someone should tell him that no one wears After Shave any more.

Yet again he wanted to talk about the two different groups we have in our membership, being those who want to compete at the highest level possible, to win, and those who say they just want to have fun.  Yet again he pointed out that most sailors do not compete above Club Level and we should think about that, how best to engage them. 

"So?" I knew I had to ask the rhetorical question, he won't let this go after all.  "Remind me, what's the difference betweenBrenton competing and just 'Having Fun'?"

"Well" he said, "just don't take it so seriously, don't argue, just, you know ... have fun!  We have covered this before, Jeeeezus why is this so hard?"

"Because you have never told me which Racing Rules of Sailing we need to ignore to have fun."

"Who said anything about ignoring rules?  That's just ridiculous!  Who said that?"  he said shrugging and looking around for the culprit  "You don't have to ignore the damn RRS, just don't take them so seriously!"

I nodded.  So you see, there is the problem right there, in the cold light of day, yet again.  No one can define the 'Rules of Fun'.   They must be different from following the Sailing Rules though, or we would not be having the discussion.

There is nothing more 'fun killing' than someone not doing a turn when they fouled you, then not long after, expect you to do one for a similar offence.  If no one does penalties it rapidly becomes a 'dodgem cars' event, a contact sport with some expensive and fragile kit. 

BoatcrashsmallBut if you have to do a turn, that could cost you a few places and most  likely change your behaviour next race.  Maybe you will duck them next time, or tack early.  Just losing one place is better than four right?  'No penalties', means that it is worth trying to cross that starboard tacker again because you 'may' just make it and nothing happens if you fail right?

The best RC sailing experiences I have had have been when everyone respected the rules and did any penalties they accrued without argument.  It can happen.  So whether we all have fun or not depends on the willingness of each sailor to do their penalties that inevitably are required.  The RRS expects you to take a penalty when you break a rule, there is no requirement for the other guy to 'call' you.  But if you do not do a penalty voluntarily, then he can protest you for that. 

Till someone can provide a definition of fun sailing, I will continue to assume that anyone who uses the term 'just have fun', just does not want someone asking them to do a penalty.  If you do ask them to, they can claim that you are the problem, the Fun Police. "We are not playing for sheep stations mate, calm down!"   Mmmm ... but ... but ... aren't those who refuse to do a penalty the prob ... ah never mind.

"I put it to you Brenton, that none of the Rules should be dropped or ignored.  I put it to you that what is required to have fun is for sailors who know that they have broken a rule, crossed the line early, made contact with a mark, made a starboard tacker take avoiding action, failed to keep clear ... to just do their penalty without even being asked!   The rules exist so that everyone knows how to behave, to make sailing FUN!"

He just slowly shook his head and annoyingly realigned his club cuff-links while glancing at my polo shirt.

I got the lift back to the 9th floor and asked my PA to add Brenton's name to the list for the next months RRS training course and to make sure he goes.  Don't think he gets the rules.


Ron Fawcett



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