August 24, 2014

No More Back Pain

by Pam
Pass the ibuprofen please!

Regardless of age or the boat sailed, alot sailors have back problems of some sort. Many a Laser sailor has had to take a break from or part ways with their Laser because of their back.

Doug has been sailing a Laser since 1977 (37 years) and he doesn't complain of back problems. He is an exception. He eats right, exercises, doesn't carry extra weight and always stretches before sailing.

I rarely eat right, genetics blessed me with a fast metabolism such that I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight (until age 50) and if exercise didn't come in the form of fun and games, I wanted no part of it. Starting in my 20s I had minor back problems that I ignored. In my 30s I had back problems that I medicated and in my 40s I had back surgery. In my 50s, I pay attention to anything and everything that might make a difference as I now know that all of my problems were 100% predictable and preventable.

This is worth paying attention to: 

If someone is currently experiencing back problems, give this 30 day challenge a try and let me know if it works:

August 18, 2014

Boots and pants and knees and feet

by Pam
Getting ready to go out on the water on a windy weekend. Short pants, 3/4 pants and long pants ...

Is that sailor in the middle wearing underwear on the outside of his pants?  Why?

At the end of weekend ... which knees go with which pants?

Which feet were wearing boots?

Cannonball Run

by Pam

This past weekend we traveled to Palacios Yacht Club for a combined adult Laser District 15 and youth Cannonball Run (Opti/4.7/Radial) Regatta. Normally, there is no mixing of youth and adult regattas and I'll admit I was a little skeptical about the concept but it turned out to be a brilliant idea to combine the two. It's definitely a model that should be considered for encouraging and building participation. It somehow provided the perfect push/pull for both the sailors and the parents in attendance.

Palacios is located in Texas part way between Galveston and Corpus Christi and the "yacht club" appears to be wherever the members hang their sign and boats and people gather. They proved that with community support and lots of awesome volunteers, you just don't need a clubhouse to put on a great event.

There was plenty of wind, sun and heat for the weekend. Hydration, sunscreen, fitness and a little fearlessness were all definite musts for racing. I registered which helped get the numbers where they needed to be to qualify the event for grand prix points but I took one look at the conditions and opted out of sailing. That would leave Doug free to focus on his own sailing and not have to worry about me. One of the goals for the mixing of adults and youth was to encourage kids and parents to both race. There was certainly no shortage of race saavy parents on hand. However, I suspect that many parents made the same choice as I did but made it earlier, deciding that the kids had priority. In less challenging and more controlled conditions, I could certainly see more parents (and spouses) opting in rather than out.

After helping Doug drag his dolly through the sandy beach (no small task) and getting him launched, I got back up to the parking lot and turned around and he had already returned. He hollered that the pin on the vang had broken (same thing happened to Sebastian between races but he carried a spare pin in his life jacket which Doug now has too). I grabbed the gear box and ran toward the beach, fished out another pin and for the life of me all I could see were those little 'I hate you' ring dings that would just about fit the pinky of a four year old (who can use those things?). I just pulled my ring off and used that instead. Quite handy.

As I was standing on the beach watching him sail away, a parent jokingly asked me if I'd gotten my boy off safely. I laughed as I looked around and saw all the parents up and down the beach doing the same thing. So that's what I'd become … the parent of a sailor. More than once, as I looked out on the racing, I was asked which course my kid was on. When we first arrived, I parked (temporarily) right up front. After a while we were sort of boxed in and couldn't move but by day 2, upon realizing that 'my kid' was the oldest kid on the race course, I declared the spot the 'Sailors Over Sixty parking' and just claimed it as ours.

It was an interesting weekend of contrasts. Most of the young sailors put up their sails really early letting them flog in the wind. The older sailors (who bought their own sail) waited until the very last minute.

When returning to the sandy beach, there was an arduous hike through the sand to get the boat to the parking lot and water hose. The kids, without thinking twice, headed to the water hose with boat in tow, most of the time requiring multiple adults to help push and pull. The adults helped a few kids, then just walked to the water hose without their boats and stood under the water to cool off. Then they changed, grabbed food and water and debated whether they really needed to drag the boat off the public beach and rinse it off and put it in the parking lot.

I didn't make it off the shore so haven't a clue about the racing. Several sailors left the course early and I was told I made the right decision not to sail. Watching the Opti kids come in was a hoot. One father was in a kayak and his daughter was following him in her Opti. He'd call out 'tack' and round she'd go. He talked her all the way into the beach and she calmly did everything she was told. When she got out of the boat she was just a tiny little thing and I was all choked up from watching her. Just amazingly precious!

The funniest thing I noticed several times was when a kid was actually pulled off his Opti and the boat towed back in, no matter where that Opti was, the kid placed himself on the motor boat at the furthest distance away from the Opti.

Now the dedication of one parent, who's kid schooled 'my kid' all weekend, was so determined to see the racing that he and another fellow and two large dogs (all without life jackets) jumped on a two seater jet ski and headed to the race course. That was definitely a sight. I understand the jetski had some issues and they were towed back in.

At the end of the regatta, 18 year old, Keen, had soundly and repeatedly beaten Doug and thrown out a 1 in the final scoring. Although the two were usually separated from the pack, Keen was clearly the better sailor.

Keen sat down to dinner with us on Saturday evening and there was an interesting exchange. Weight - Keen is a few pounds lighter than Doug. Age - Doug is 4 and half decades older than Keen. Doug assumed Keen was heavier and Keen assumed Doug was younger. Their sailing speed was similar upwind with Doug getting to the first windward mark ahead of Keen about 4 out of the 7 races but Keen was much faster downwind. Keen's observation was that all of Doug's controls were too loose. Keen's coach, Ryan Minth, has his students sailing with tighter controls upwind than anyone else. So, on day 2, Doug sailed with his controls on harder but it's going to take some time for fine tuning. Doug thought the boat felt more balanced and more responsive but it also felt like sailing a Radial coming off the start line (no power). Keen's downwind concentration was such that he didn't really pay attention to Doug so he didn't have any advice to offer.

So far, the most impressive downwind speed that Doug has seen in the area comes out of Houston. Hopefully, Doug will get a chance to get down there before the Worlds and let those kids (and Ryan) teach him a thing or two.

Yet another precious moment was at the end of the regatta where there was a 50 pound kid struggling to pull an Opti with about 60 pounds of water in it and Doug felt compelled to go lend a hand. It made Doug's weekend.

August 10, 2014

Women and Sailing

by Pam
I haven't seen many willing to talk about this, so I'm going there.

Psychological (yes, we are crazy)

A woman comes home from work to find her pubescent daughter sitting on the couch sobbing uncontrollably. She gently asks, "honey, what's wrong?" and the daughter, still sobbing, frightened and half yelling, replies "I DON'T KNOW!"

There is an old joke. Why does it take 5 women with PMS to change a light bulb? The answer, "IT JUST DOES, OKAY?"

Parking lot scene from Fried Green Tomatoes where an older woman loses her ability to "hide her crazy and act like a lady:"

Two mothers comparing notes of raising boys versus girls noted that with boys, it's all physical and with girls it's all mental.

I find comfort in hearing and seeing these things because it reassures me I'm not alone in my feelings and I'm somewhat normal in my actions and that maybe my own "moments" will one day be a source of humor.

I'll never forget the day, as a young adult, I sat in my gynecologist's office asking the doctor why I couldn't just be calm and stable like a man. He proceeded to start drawing a graph on the white board showing me the normal hormone fluctuations of the female body each month from a few years before puberty until a few years after menopause. I sat there with my mouth hanging open and finally said, "That's a bad design. No two days of hormone levels are ever the same. No wonder men think we're crazy. WE ARE … by design!"

This is the starting framework for women. In that framework lies the reason for every "why" question you've ever had about a woman. As you can see, the actual answers to your questions are as random and variable as the day of the month. 

Physiological (no, we are not stable)

Every month, from puberty to menopause, the unaltered female body prepares to make a baby. This has both psychological and physiological ramifications that can and do affect her desire and ability to sail.

There have been studies that show women perform best during the part of the monthly cycle when estrogen levels are high. When progesterone levels are high; however, the studies show they perform their worst.

Hormones also alter the set-point of the female's body temperature which means it changes the temperature at which her body will begin to attempt to cool or warm itself. When estrogen is high, the body temperature is lower and when progesterone is high, the body temperature is higher, both of which can become very real issues if sailing in extreme temperatures.

For instance, in the second half of the cycle, a woman's body must reach a higher temperature before her thermostat compensates and begins to cool itself plus there is also a decreased ability to dilate the small blood vessels under skin. Hyperthermia (an increased body temperature) is one of the factors that causes fatigue during exercise and because the body won't begin to attempt to cool itself, there is an increased risk of heat-related issues such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

As the hormones fluctuate normally, this can affect everything from the available oxygen in the blood and iron levels to hydration and electrolytes. Plus, fluctuations in hormones are exacerbated during exercise. 

On particularly hot days, race committees will often remind people to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated and quietly keep an eye out for older participants. Everyone should be more aware of women's monthly vulnerabilities and sensitivities to heat. 

Here is a graphic showing the body temperature fluctuations throughout the month:

That time of the month (bob and weave guys)

For those who organize events and want to encourage women to sail, especially on dinghies, you MUST realize that planning for women includes planning for their hormones. 

There is a time of the month when women have an extra issue to deal with (beyond the lack of stable hormones) and having a guaranteed bathroom break is essential. To be somewhat crude, for those of us who still have a monthly visitor, we have two options: diaper or plug. Leaving either of those unattended for a day of sailing simply isn't an option without adverse consequences ranging from embarrassment to hospitalization. Don't try to squeeze in that extra race.

Cause and Effect

Doug and I were sailing yesterday and he was on race duty. It wasn't an optimal time for me to be sailing psychologically or physiologically but our race format is two races, a break and then one final race so I figured I'd be okay. Doug tells me before the racing begins that the fleet captain has decided to do three races back to back because the wind is supposed to die. I'm not pleased.

100+ degree temperatures, a bob and weave time of month and my bathroom break taken away. Quite subconsciously (I hope) I proceeded to foul the fleet captain on the start line, have an emotional meltdown on the course, then t-boned the fleet captain on the finish line after I finished and circled around making my way to the committee boat to give Doug a piece of my mind (we had just had a failed experiment with two way-radios) and by the third race I was having waves nausea and early signs of heat exhaustion and had to call out for assistance. Lovely. I went from irritable and impatient to batshit crazy to sick and helpless. 

Oh joy ... next month I get to do it again ... poor Doug. 

August 01, 2014

Coordinated Simultaneous World Club Race

by Pam

One club race held simultaneously across the whole world on a Sunday with the race results mashed together to create one big world race. Oh, and set a world record and get every participating sailor's name in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Bart's Bash is scheduled for September 21, 2014. Are you participating? Has your club signed up?

"Bart" is America’s Cup sailor Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, Olympic gold and silver medalist, who died in an America's Cup training accident last year. This event is in his honor.

I had read about Bart's Bash a few months ago and recently started looking to see which clubs in my area are participating. Only one club in all of Texas is signed up? WHAT! So, I started sending out inquiries and the overwhelming response was … 'Huh? Never heard of it.'

Look, I'm never going to win a world sailing event but becoming a world record holder is as easy as participating in one single local sailboat race and I even get to see how I scored against the likes of Robert Scheidt and Ben Ainsle. I say as easy as but since no club in my area has signed up, it might not be so simple. Even the UAE has three clubs signed up. The UK has over 400 clubs whereas the US has only about 30. Where is the disconnect here?

I'm like the least educated person I know when it comes to all things sailing. Doug remembered hearing the name of the event but didn't realize it was being held simultaneously at local clubs all over the world. There are, of course, a few simple requirements but nothing too difficult to implement.

The event is open to every class. So far, the Laser class has the largest number of sailors signed up to participate. Sort of fitting since Bart began his competitive sailing career in a Laser before moving on to the Finn and then the Star. 

If you're planning to sail somewhere on September 21, 2014, please ask your club to sign up and make the few tweaks necessary to one race to qualify for the Bart's Bash event.

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