mr. roger’s neighborhood

mr. roger’s neighborhood

Traditionally, US-based pro sailors have been far more concerned with keeping their wealthy patrons happy than with marketing themselves or expanding the appeal of the sport. The Cayards of the world have spent a lifetime earning a ridiculously good living without ever having to learn how to tell a good story, or write an interesting paragraph. Or actually be interesting. (edit – Cayard had some interesting reporting during the VOR in 1997, but hasn’t said anything compelling in over a decade since). But that’s not good enough anymore – word of mouth simply doesn’t spread far or wide enough to keep most pros busy in this day and age, so they have to find other ways.  And coincidentally, this most basic of marketing chores – writing compelling content for your family, friends, fans, and the sailing public – serves the sport as well.  After all, the massive French offshore racing scene is in large part due to the sailing prowess AND COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS of a couple of French heroes.  If they didn’t write so prolifically, an entire industry likely wouldn’t exist today.

That’s a long intro to a short piece, but one that is a good sample of the kind of down-to-earth writing that we’d love to see from more pro sailors in the US.   Meet Sam “Rashid” Rogers, an ultra-likeable Midwestern pro racer with multiple championships in the scow and sportboat fleets.  His blog 42 Marine is simple, good looking and updated frequently with good stories that bring you behind the scenes of the pro racing lifestyle.  And if he stays with the web and doesn’t blow his time on useless, obsolete paper mags, he’ll be one of this generation’s stars before too long.  Here’s a recent piece from Sam:

When your primary source of income is through racing sailboats, there is a very delicate balance committing to teams that are planning to do a lot of events, have a chance of succeeding and hopefully will be a fun team to be involved with.  There can often be complicated calendar matrix that develops when trying to figure out the next season of racing, especially when involved with several different classes that have conflicting events.  Even though you have an opportunity to win a few events in one class with a particular team, the sailing days are much less than they are with a different team in a different class of boat and when the dates collide, there are some tough decisions to be made.

The other thing that is tricky is the all-important “commitment”.  Commitment is all you have at this level. There are no contracts.  You are banking on a commitment from the team you are with, and you are giving your commitment to them.  If they break theirs, you are left looking for a ride that will be very hard to find if you have turned other teams down already.  If you break yours, it had better be for a darn good reason…chances are that bridge is burned. It is always a tense moment when you sign on with a team, inform several others that you are no longer available, than you come to find out that what you had lined up has fallen through, and the teams that were interested before are no longer are.

Post Melges 32 Worlds, there has been some reshuffling going on within several Melges 32 teams and after spending all of 2010 with Samba Pa Ti, I will be sailing with 2 different Melges 32 teams for the upcoming season.  For the Gold Cup, I will get my first experience racing with Quantum Melges 32 sails and will be joining the DeVos family boat Volpe.  Volpe won the US Nationals in 2010 and with Scott Nixon, Ed Baird, and a solid, young helmsman in Ryan DeVos, we should be tough come December.  For Key West and a few Carribean events, a team from St. Thomas has emerged and I will be hopping on along with good friend Anthony Kotoun and Peter Holmberg.  It should be a great season of racing with the typical venues on tap and a good chance of success with both squads.

As for the Melges 20, M and M Racing is back in action for the 2011 season, and with a brand new boat and a hungry attitude, Mary Anne, Bill and myself are eager to improve upon our 3rd place overall series finish from last year.  Mary Anne and Bill purchased a new boat and have really made the effort to ensure we can be in the hunt.  We kick off the season with a weekend of training prior to Thanksgiving, than the first winter series event begins December 11-12.  The Melges 20 fleet is projected to double in size, so we will have our hands full.

After a few nerve racking weeks in October of trying to piece together the schedule for 2011, the upcoming season is looking promising.  Looking forward to providing some good race reports and antics from the front lines of the Melges 32 and 20 fleets…and whatever else pops up this winter!