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Clipper Ventures

Cross Training

by Dan Dickison on 17 Nov 2000
Polishing your performance is a lifelong pursuit, and one way to avoid complacency
is to push yourself by learning aboard unfamiliar boats. Dan Dickison discusses the
advantages of 'cross training' on SailNet. Here's a brief excerpt

It's easy for sailors, particularly those who own and drive sailboats, to get into a rut by sailing
just one kind of boat. After a while that kind of boat just becomes such a comfortable fit that
you stop asking yourself, 'What can I do to sail better?'

Getting into an unfamiliar boat will keep you on your toes as a performance sailor because it
will require that you be particularly observant to figure out how the new vessel responds. Once
you realize that the sailing techniques you formerly relied upon are only alternatives, not hard,
fast rules, you'll be well on your way toward becoming a better sailor.

Jumping into a new class may be intimidating at first, but intimidation is only an initial phase.
Knowing this will help you make the most of this learning opportunity and help you to enjoy
what could otherwise be an awkward situation. Above all, you should avoid burdening yourself
with unrealistic expectations about how you might fare your first time out aboard a new boat.
Remember, Michael Jordan had no mortal equivalent on the basketball court, but in a baseball
uniform he became just another guy on the roster, no more than a farm leaguer. The idea,
after all, is simply to learn, so just try to absorb as much as you can about how the good
sailors in this new boat set things up and how they sail the boat. You can start by asking
questions, and as a rule of thumb, you'll find that most everyone who sails that new boat will
be more than willing to help you learn.

Then, when you eventually get back aboard your usual boat, you won't realize it, but
unconsciously you'll be distilling what you learned aboard the other boat and applying it. It's
only human nature for you to make comparisons, and these will help you fine-tune your

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