Saturday, July 30, 2016
What It's All About
We had our Monthly Mug race yesterday - one 90 minute race. Nice conditions - about 10 to 12 knots, with small waves and a gentle incoming tide.
I managed to come in second in the race - our top Kiwi sailor did his usual horizon job and our usual second place sailor was the race officer, so I managed not to screw up in any big way and hang on to beat a fellow who beats me often.
And it was a glorious afternoon. I really concentrated - but in a non-stressful way. I tried hard to think ahead - OK, at the leeward mark I need to account for a bit of tide, go slightly wide and watch out for the boat to windward - he will probably not get an overlap and have mark room, but be ready just in case. Take your time, nothing rushed, round up next to mark and head toward the shallow water for beating into the tide. Nothing dramatic, but a conscious thinking ahead. Not a semi-panic process (which I know well), just a calm checklist type of thinking.
And I was really hiking. Of course my old muscles have their limits (which arrive disturbingly quickly), but I was making concentrated efforts to do some real straight leg hiking (or at least my version of it) in prolonged (surely a few seconds count as prolonged) sessions. And it helped.
And finally, sometimes I was sailing a bit closer to the wind than I often do - outside telltale flowing but inner one not flowing so well.
But, best of all, I was enjoying myself - just the sheer pleasure of being out there, going (relatively) well and staying ahead of my friend who tried several times to catch me. It was definitely Flow. I am reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's excellent book Flow now and that is definitely where I was yesterday.
Flow is basically having all one's psychic energy focussed on something where skill level and challenge are both high enough to produce a maximum of "flow". The point is that even at my level of skill level, I can be in that state when the challenge is appropriate. It is really a great feeling.
I will be teaching some beginner sailors this afternoon and I hope I can have them experience at least a few seconds of what I felt yesterday - if so, they will be hooked.