Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reflections from the President - Tale of Two Meals

Tom Hubbell w/Alicia Martorella (Outstanding Community Sailing Director Award)

by Tom Hubbell

Scene 1:  We had a record 340 people in New Orleans two weeks ago for the National Sailing Programs Symposium (NSPS) which is our premier training and community sailing event. A remarkable majority of the group grew up after the ‘60s; they are younger people engaged in teaching and sharing the sport.  Their enthusiasm spread throughout the symposium sessions and into the social functions some of which made New Orleans proud to host us along with our NSPS mascot, Marvin the Gator.

I sat down with a subset of eight young men for one of the lunches that happened to be all vegetables. I learned about their enthusiasm for teaching and running excellent sailing programs. A woman of a certain age was also at our table and she and I each ate all our vegetables and enjoyed the cheesecake that followed. The young men rebelled. They scoffed at being served exclusively veggies, ate almost none of it, made plans for a burger, and bolted before the cheesecake appeared. I considered putting on my doctor “hat” and trying to say something inspiring to them about vegetables but thought better of it.  One has to have a reason to change before there is a willingness to consider it.

What’s not to like about a lively symposium of speakers and the discussions? A good number of worthy people were recognized with awards, the eight teams enjoyed competing in Dick Allsopp’s World Famous Powerboat Challenge, and we learned more about the extraordinary US Sailing Reach sailing program for STEM education. I was happy to be there.

Scene 2: Flying to Miami I arrived just in time for the Caesar Salad at a special awards dinner for the US Sailing Team Sperry. I was seated with six sailors who are part of our national team. They looked the part: young, energetic, fit, intelligent sailor-athletes. We chatted. The salad plates were cleared, no residuals. The beef and green vegetables came out – politely but with deft handiwork the athletes’ plates were clean in just a few minutes. I learned about their sailing and their careers. The cheesecake came. I ate mine. The awards speeches displayed engagement and high hopes. Karen Pitts of Sperry closed with a perfect pep talk. I savored the excitement about our national team.  At the end, I looked around the table and there in front of every athlete was an essentially untouched cheesecake. I asked what that was about. The clear response, “too much fat and I need to maintain the right weight to race the boat.” Now there’s discipline and commitment to racing.

Bit of a contrast isn’t it? Two cultures devoted to sailing; on the Olympic side, nutrition and fitness are added to the stew. Maybe someday eating vegetables will be like wearing seatbelts. You just do it because it is good for you. I’ll have to think about the cheesecake situation. Being around all kinds of sailors is good for you, too.


Tom Hubbell
President of US Sailing

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