June 16, 2013

Am I Too Old For This?

by Pam
A friend recently asked me if I thought that she might be too old for sailing? It’s a recurring theme I’ve seen lately. A recent post by Broadly Reaching wondered if the Laser was still for him. Tillerman recently pronounced that he’s come full circle and traveling to regattas has lost its appeal. The post contained a comment with a copy of a recent rant on the Sailing Anarchy forum of a sailor who was tired of the entire ‘Regatta Rat Race.’

If you sail long enough, at some point, maybe several, you will likely ask yourself if you’re too old for this boat, this wind, the traveling, the regatta routine, or, worse, sailing altogether. If you’re asking the question, then the short answer is, YES, you’re too old for it. After all, you wouldn’t be asking the question if you didn’t already feel too old for it. I live with a man who is a daily reminder that asking if you’re too old for something is the wrong question.

The real question is do you want to feel too old for it? Because really, it’s a slippery slope. If you give in, before long you have a long list of things you’re too old for and life becomes boring, your body goes to hell and your mind to mush. Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to feel too old for something, unless, of course, it’s a stupid, self destructive something.

It is an undisputed fact that the weather conditions at the back of the fleet are far worse than the weather conditions at the front. It’s hotter, colder, windier, choppier, shiftier, wetter, dryer, calmer and it’s no where near as much fun. The statistics must show that the largest percentage of sailors that leave a particular class or the sport of sailing come from the back or middle of the fleet and not the front. Doug always says that being fit makes sailing a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. I mean, really, who enjoys a good ass-kicking?

Well Doug is off traveling for various regattas. I’m at home in the hot Texas summer and the lawn had to be mowed. We cancelled our mowers last year and got a reel mower because Doug wanted the workout to keep him fit for sailing. A reel mower has no motor and is the old fashioned push mower. It’s a strength and cardio workout all in one and you have to have a little momentum to even get it to cut. We have a big corner lot with slopes. I’ve watched Doug run back and forth mowing the lawn. Heck, I’ve even talked with him on the phone while he’s mowed the entire lawn. How hard can it be, right? Well, I spent the entire day alternating between pushing that dang mower, laying in the grass panting like a dog and crawling into the house to get into the air conditioning. If it doesn’t kill me first, I know it will be good for me but if he ever tries to take away my electric weed-eater/edger, I’m calling a lawyer.

Doug is a little over a decade older than me in years. After today, I’d guess he’s at least two decades younger than me in health and fitness. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Doug ask if he’s too old for sailing. I, on the other hand … am going to have to mow that damn lawn once or twice more before Doug gets back. I might be too old to be a homeowner, but I’m definitely not too old for sailing. And if that man keeps traveling and I keep mowing, you probably won't ever hear me asking if I'm too old for something again. I bet he planned this.


  1. Yes. The key is not to leave the sport, but to abandon the class to a more age-appropriate craft. As long as it's a sail boat!

  2. lol. I think I said that maybe the problem was that I "started" when I was too old. Particularly racing . . . I have one of those push reel lawn-mowers too. Fun, aye? But C. usually uses the one with the motor because he says that while the push reel one is great because it's quiet - it does not mow very well. Our lawn is too big! Great blog as always.

    1. Thanks for your comment. They need adjustment for sure, but being able to talk on the phone or listen to music while cutting the lawn in a definite plus.

  3. Keep the reel mower, just get it adjusted and sharpened at a local golf course, it is actually less work that a large heavy motorized unit, I know, I made the switch many yeas ago and my wife has even taken over the chore. As for sailing age, you can never be too old, that is evident at our club where we have a disabled program and some severely disabled sailors take to winds where most other club sailors are afraid. If they can do it, anybody can. My personal experience is what my wife and I call our mid-life crisis, we downsized from 25 years on a 470 to a 29er this year with all the old guys at the club telling us it is a boat for kids and we are too old. After climbing the very steep learning curve of a skiff (all the young kids said they had the same repeated dumping experience at the beginning) we love it. It is so much more fun to be learning something completely new and difficult. We picked this boat because the recommended crew weight was similar to our own and it can really move and be exciting in low winds, which the 470 is not. Now instead of waiting for a crazy blow to have fun on the 470, we are sailing much more often and always having a blast in any wind (maybe not the crazy big blows yet, we are still learning how to build up to that...)

    1. Good for you!

      Your story reminds me of something that happened when I was about 30 living in Canada. Our club was having its annual championships and, to make it fair, they held it in different classes each year. It had always been held in keelboats and someone suggested that it be held in Lasers. One fellow objected, saying "What? A Laser! They're not supposed to be sailed by anyone over 35!!!" Of course, the suggestion was voted down.

      So here I am pushing 63 with some of by best sailing friends also in their 60's. And we're all having a blast.

      I once read that each year we live, our life expectancy increases 9 months. I like to think that each day spend on the water is added to the rest of my life.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...