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Old Dec 20, 2012, 09:53 AM
B North is offline
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How to beat a guy who has 15 years of experience?

I have had the privilege of sailing a time or two with a guy who has two silvers, one gold, a host of world championships, and wins in every class in which he has sailed. He didn't start sailing until well into high school. His first boat was a styrofoam boat of the type as given away as cigarette company promotions. He didn't come from money. He grew up in a decent sailing area, though not the best even in Texas.

He is an extremely bright guy and a heck of an all around athlete.

His burning desire was to win a gold medal. When he stopped growing in high school, the path he wanted -- to be a top basketball player -- was closed. At that point he chose sailing as his path to Olympic gold.

He was HORRIBLE in a Laser when he started. But he sailed every day for two years when he got to college. He was a three time All America at University of Texas, so he was beating people who had much, much more experience than he even then.

The guy raced every boat that he had access to -- J 24s, J 22s, Snipes, 470s, 420s, FDs, Shields, Vanguard 15s, Flying Scots -- if it floated and there was a race, he was there.

Okay, so this guys is truly a sailing genius, and I dare say no one on this board is in this guy's league, but there is still a lesson in how to beat the guy who has a lot more experience than you.

Sail as much as you can. When this guy practiced, it wasn't a pleasure sail. He had things to work on and he did so.

Sail against the best. This guy sought out the best competition. He sailed boats new to him so he could sail against the best. And when he got beat, it spurred him on; it didn't depress him.

Keep track of your mistakes. This guy remembered his mistakes and worked on correcting those and seeing how they might apply to his next race.

We all have a top level we can achieve given our brain's aptitude, and it varies by person. We all have other things going on in our lives than model sailing. But as my example shows, if improvement is your goal, it can be done. But one also has to be realistic. I am not going to beat Graham Elliott no matter how much I ramp up my program because there's a talent gap there. BUT I know that I can still improve from my current level with more, smarter sailing.

Finally, I will end this with an addage from my old daddy who told me "A man can have 15 years of experience, or he can have one year of experience 15 times over." My example person maximized his experience, but I know a lot of others who just do the same thing over and over. I fall into the latter category, and it's easy to do, and hard to correct!
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Last edited by B North; Dec 20, 2012 at 10:09 AM.
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