Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reflections from the President

by Tom Hubbell

A Tale of Two Teammates

I struggled to return to reality after the second Florida Thistle regatta. We had so much fun! Kathy, at 24, perpetually happy and energetic kept the old guys on our toes. Mark, our rock star teammate, started thinking and planning the day on the water as soon as his eyelids popped open in the morning.

After a not-so-great weekend long ago I realized that the first step to enjoyable racing is a compatible, enjoyable team. No matter how intensely you race, there is a lot of time to pass in the boat, in the boat-park, and on the road with your teammates. I became aware that it’s the playmates that count and everything else is secondary.

Pat, my wife, is an outdoors-loving farm girl but she was not a sailor when we met. My hunch was right that she would take to sailing. She quickly became a wind shift wizard and an ace spinnaker trimmer.  With our stalwart, fun-loving, pleasantly-quirky third crew, Punch, we raced over 300 regattas in 25 years together. The chemistry was right between us; we reached understandings and truncated commentary that simplified everything on the racecourse. We had a great time even in awful conditions.  The last 13 years we didn’t sail together; times changed but the friendship remained. Though not on the same boat, Punch and I always spent time together at regattas. Punch passed away a couple of months ago. His death didn’t really come home to me until we were sailing out for the first race of the season in St. Petersburg; he wouldn’t be there anymore. There are a lot of fine people to sail with but there is no one quite like him.

The last 12 years I have found several spectacular teammates. For most, the Thistle ideal weight range often calls for a team of two guys and a girl. The magic formula starts (and ends) with good interpersonal chemistry. I’m happy when we have a thoughtful, detail-oriented, experienced guy and an energetic, talented woman to liven up the day and keep the boys in line, or not. I’ve enjoyed sailing with a bunch of good people. Thanks to Pat and Punch and frequent teammates Don on the C-Scow and Thistle sailors Gretchen, Howard, Natalie, Sue, John, Christine, Carolyn, Mark, and Kathy for putting the fun in the game - together. Looking forward to blogging about our experience at Charleston Race Week on a J/22!

Tom Hubbell

President of US Sailing

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