Back in the Groove (Baby)
After 15 years hidden from the light of day in the back of a shed she emerged, her once-immaculate varnish streaked with grime & cobwebs and her wood marked by years of moisture, to greet the weak, English Autumn sun once more…
It’s not that I don’t like boats built of materials like carbon, epoxy, honeycomb Nomex, polyester, fiberglass, etc. They comprise the core of the modern, sleek craft that race on today’s dinghy and keelboat circuit, and whether the focus is the latest Maxi or foiling dinghy, like most sailors I can appreciate these breathtaking works of efficient, low-weight and maintenance-free engineering. Indeed, it is the continued development of construction materials and techniques that has helped give our sport a slightly more mainstream credibility and has allowed us to divide our interests, just like automobile collectors, into different categories – vintage, modern and concept. Not surprisingly it is the modern and concept designs that attract the lion’s share of the media, while the vintage arm still manages to attract strong support from lovers of wood, antiquity and elegant, timeless design.
I am not immune to the beguiling wiles of either the classic or modern designs myself, but my desires are tempered by reality. A California mortgage, a single-income, a travel-heavy job and a non-sailing family dictate that while I am still free to pursue my sailing dreams, these dreams must be realized primarily in my head, and in practice on a somewhat limited budget and investment of time. Goodbye, then, to any thoughts of a 505 or Melges 24 campaign, or to the soul-fulfilling restoration of some 1940s Six Meter classic or early Dragon. Wonderful boats all of them, but those modern, exotic construction materials do not come cheap and the classics with their teak, brass, copper, varnish and paint simply devour time and money. As for campaign travel…
So where does that leave me? Well, quite frankly, I find myself firmly ensconced in the 70’s!
Now, mention the ‘70s to friends or strangers alike and it’s bound to elicit a somewhat similar response: a smirk of derision from those who were not around to remember it firsthand and a smirk of guilty pleasure for those of us who lived disco, bell-bottoms and orange, brown and lime color schemes (www.plaidstallions.com)! The ‘70s remain in limbo, a no-man’s land between the exotic classic and cutting-edge modern, resulting in an era that must be secretly appreciated until such time as it is bestowed with an element of respect.
Or should it already have respect?