June 20, 2013

Laser Sailing at Age 74

Pam:  In response to my 'Am I Too Old For This?' post, we received an email from Joe who sailed in the recent Canadian Laser Masters Championship with Doug.  After an incident on the water many years ago in which Joe wondered if Doug had eyes in the back of his head, these two have been sneaking up behind each other all over the world, covering the other's eyes, disguising his voice and asking 'guess who?'  Joe sent us an excerpt from his personal journal which we asked if we could share.  Clearly, he didn't do as well has he expected, but under the circumstances, he's a winner in my book. From Doug's cryptic messages, I understand that they 'never get those conditions' and everyone struggled to string together a consistent series.  In 3 days they had huge shifts (Doug claims one was 90 degrees), 1 mile legs against the current, and wind that really picked up for several races, plus it was cold and wet. Challenging conditions for any age, let alone age 74. We all hope that we'll still be sailing a Laser at that age ... Joe is living the dream.  Thanks for sharing!

by Joe van Rossem
Home Monday morning after the Canadian Masters in Beaconsfield Quebec. Sitting on the sofa in my house coat with my coffee reflecting on the last four days.

What happened? Well let me tell you, S#!+ happened! However, there is no one to blame except me, for sailing a bad regatta.

Maybe, I'm getting too old!  And my memory is fading as well, if I can't even put my finger on what went wrong! All those thoughts come into my head as I sit here reflecting on the past weekend. Then, a thought came to me, why don't you write it down and maybe learn a bit from all this. Then again (at seventy four) if I don't know it all by now, I'll never will. However, hence this writing.

Friday, first race, started at the pin end, and wanted to sail the first leg in the middle right side of the course and ended up doing the exact opposite. Fighting bad air and lifted the wrong way and trying to catch up.

Second race. Same as the first.

Third race. Started at the committee boat, approached the line on port and saw an opening and just continued, worked the middle right   Ended up in front at the top mark with no air, however, after rounding, the wind picked up again nicely (now from the North), half way down the leg, the mark boat greeted us with the checkered flag, calling off the race. Miller time? Swenson would say.

Learned what?

If before the start, you have decided to sail the fist leg in the middle right, you should at least try to start in the middle right of the line? Right!

Saturday's racing started with a nice breeze that did not hold leaving us with waves and little wind. Then the wind came back but the struggle remained, the old '78 Laser I was using for this regatta was groaning and moaning in the short steep waves like saying enough is enough. Never mind my legs. Back to the bike (maybe twice a day for an hour each, starting today). The whole day was a struggle that's all I remember.

Sunday's racing, umm? Dressed light, for light air prediction. However the wind pick up nicely at starting time. Picked the port end again, nobody there and started on port way too late. If you attempt a port start, at least be on the line on time. Ha ha, you old fool, I screwed that start! Anyway, got to the top mark deep with no chance to catch up, in any case, the race committee shortened course to just two and a half legs. After the finish, we drifted around in the rain for quite some time and got really cold. The committee boat, after a while, moved close to shore. Assuming they were going to can it for the day, so I sailed in and packed up only to find out that there was another race on the way and I missed it.

So, shit happens to us all from time to time. If we were perfect, we would win everything and that would be disastrous. It is always easy to blame someone else for your problems but that just would not work. To be critical of a race committee who are there for you and volunteer their time freely for the sailors, is not very productive for anyone. Although, I must admit that, at times, race management leave a lot to be desired and can get you down before racing even starts.

Final thoughts: Never too old, going to lose some weight, going to work a little harder on my fitness.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, he should. But we're happy to share ours.

  2. Hey Joe, nice writing and saw plenty of similarities in my sailing! It would be great if Doug and Pam would let you do a guest spot of writing from time to time.


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