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Racing for Personal Best

The recent New York City marathon may have a lesson for sailboat racing and those seeking the ever-elusive ‘fair’ rating rule. Last weekend’s New York Marathon had 50,643 competitors, with the fastest time coming in at a quick 2 hours, 10 minutes and 53 seconds. And for the first time in 40 years, an American, Shalane Flanagan, won the women’s division. But the average time for all competitors was 4 hours and 37 minutes.

Here’s a picture of thousands of ‘losers’ having a great day.

© 2017 TCS New York City Marathon 2017

The point? About 51,000 of the competitors have no chance of winning and don’t care. They’re out there because they love the challenge and just want to see how they measure up against the clock and some other competitors. There isn’t anyone trying to figure out some rating rule to give everyone a ‘fair’ shot at winning.

The Vendée Globe is similar. There are a handful of competitors with the time, money and skill for a shot at the podium. The rest are doing it for the challenge, the camaraderie and simply to see how well they can do. The last boat in can finish weeks after the first.

Dockside village for the 2016 Vendée Globe. Only a few boats have a real shot at the top. But if this is your game, wouldn’t you want to be there?

© Vendée Globe

Recreational racing fleets might grow if people see it as an opportunity for a personal challenge, improving skills, enjoying a great day of sailing and a chance to be with friends. If you’re one of the few with the time, money and skill who can consistently rise to the top, that’s terrific. For the rest, it’s probably not worth chasing a magical rating rule to improve your results. Just enjoy the challenge and the sail.

Running, sailing — it’s all for fun. Enjoy it.

© TCS New York City Marathon

Why do you race? We’d like to know. In the video below: What does it feel like to be DFL in the New York Marathon? Pretty good, actually. 

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We’d like to introduce a few films that wouldn’t necessarily be considered ‘sailing movies’, but have references to, or underlying hints of sailing and/ or seamanship.