10 Things Cruisers Need to Know About Racers

Good morning! This article is meant for the cruising sailors. Racers, why don't you enjoy this old T2P.tv video you’ve already seen ten times, but will watch again. We know it's your favorite.

Ok. Cruisers: here's the thing. You've by now heard that there are going to be a ton of race boats at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. And cruisers, I know this will make you uncomfortable, having to be around the dark side of sailing: the racers. But have no fear - I am here to help!

This picture of SpinSheet's editor Molly Winans makes racing sailors nervous. All that glass! The jewelry that could get caught in a winch and take off your finger! Open-toed shoes!

During my tenure on the Chesapeake, I've spent a lot of time with racers. Not so much the pros and the rigger people... really just the weekend warriors and a few offshore races. Anyway, I'm here to help you not only survive but actually really enjoy this Show. I speak racer and cruiser. Here is what you need to know. 

1. Racers adhere to a strict plan on the water, but none whatsoever on land. If they say they're going sailing at 11 a.m. but then there's zero wind anywhere on the Bay, they will still leave the dock promptly at 11 a.m. just to “run the line” despite the fact that there is no line set up anywhere. However, if we are talking apres-sailing beers, well, time becomes negotiable, and is entirely dependent upon who is buying. Cruisers just stay dry, watching the Weather Channel, sipping a Bloody Mary all morning. 

2. Racers always look like homeless people. I know, I know. I don't get why you'd want a ratty regatta t shirt from 2007 and an even rattier rum-sponsored regatta hat, but they are marks of racer pride. They counter that having our boat’s name monogramed on all our clothing is a sign that we're suffering from early-onset dementia. So we're at an impasse.

3. Racers will spend an entire weekend sanding their bottom. They'll tell you about how it's "pristine." And then they'll bitch and moan that it was the current that made them go so slow. 

4. Racers will ask 10,000 questions about the rigging of boats at the Show. They'll ask about halyards, spin poles, rigging, and PHRF ratings, and even the runners, as if they have any idea of what they're talking about. But going down below makes any racer uncomfortable. If you need to ditch a racer at the Show, just tell them you want to inspect the holding tank. Then watch that racer have an absolute cow.

5. Don't ask racers how much they paid for their sails. They will go on and on about number ones and number threes and storm sails and they are considering if they want to take the PHRF hit and get an asymmetrical spin. It's supposed to interest you, but instead it will just make you bored. Don't go there in the first place. 

6. Don't tell the racers about your cruiser snacks. Don't tell them about that one time you had the wine and cheese out and you got a great picture of a dolphin, but you were so sad when your spouse ruined your camembert because he spilled his merlot on it when the dolphin startled him. Racers will not understand a word of what you just said, and you'll spend the next 45 minutes explaining how a wine and cheese pairing works. 

7. Another thing: don't crack jokes about spinnakers. Racers take their spinnakers very seriously. 

8. Racers don't wear jewelry. However, if you're ever out among racers and you see one who is wearing a compass pendant or nice anchor earrings, you'll know he or she goes both ways. Make friends. 

9. Don't try to out-party a racer. They have this thing about “winning the party,” which translates to “being the stupidest.” If you ever find a poor racer passed out on a nice soft sailbag on your deck, just hand them a coffee and say the magic phrase, “You don’t want to miss your start,” and they will be off and away racing again. Those racers are pretty indestructible when you think about it. 

10. About those hats - basically racers think of racing like a second job, and the crap they wear is the equivalent of their monthly progress report. You’re supposed to find these impressive. Sip your drink and ask them about whatever regatta they are wearing swag from. Chances are you will hear at least one funny story with some unnecessary sail trim advice thrown in and some inflated story about how it was once blowing 35 in the harbor. Just sip your drink thankfully and say that it makes you feel the excitement, enjoying spending time at this dock with a great location and this cute racer/cruiser you just met. 

Then compliment them on their vintage hat and move on. Dock call is early tomorrow morning!

Come down to the Annapolis Sailboat Show, everybody! SpinSheet has something for both racers and cruisers. 

By Alicia Tyrell