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Gary Jobson’s New Book By Morgan Stinemetz -


hough some may say differently, sailboat racing done well is not an easy task. The many variables involved in making a boat go fast change with each passing instant. Maybe that is sailboat racing’s challenge. Certainly, it is also its biggest frustration. Gary Jobson’s new book Championship Sailing examines all the aspects—physical and psychological—of what makes an effective competitive sailor and, not coincidentally, a successful competitive sailing effort. In doing so, he also touches on, by way of illustration, what makes a competitive chump. This is an edifying book, not because Jobson examines breakthrough, new material but because he gives a fresh look at some of the things that good sailors have known all along. More important, Jobson’s book may give us some information we have never considered before. If there is anyone who has the experience to write a book like this, it is Gary Jobson. First of all, he is a class act personally. He has been fighting for his own life against lymphoma for a number of years, and he does it with dignity and pluck. While he has every right to whine about the crappy hand fate dealt him, he grits his teeth against the pain and moves on. There is much to admire about Jobson. Besides being movie star handsome, he has won 10 national one-design sailing titles. He has been on a winning America’s Cup team. He has won US Sailing’s Nathaneal G. Herreshoff Trophy. He is a member of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. He has also authored a number of books, in addition to being the ESPN sailing guru for about 20 years. When Gary Jobson says it is so, you can count on it being so. There is much to learn from Championship Sailing. However, to appreciate the competitive sailing nuances that Jobson’s vast experience underscores in this book, one has to have “been there and done that” some. This is not a book for beginners. It is a book for people who are good and want to get better, much better. Let me give you an example. Jobson takes about a page to define and discuss crew body language on a competitive boat. Because it is impossible to listen in to what is going on board a boat one is racing against, learning to read body language is as near as one can get to having the other boat “bugged.” While this body language talent is much more applicable in match racing—where you are certain of just who your competition is—it is far less effective in fleet racing. Still, Jobson has taken the time to figure out silent signals and document what they mean. It takes a minute to read a page. It took Jobson decades to come to the conclusions he lists. Go to school on Jobson. You’ll be better for it. What I like most about Jobson’s book is that no area of competitive sailing is left untouched. Should you sail aggressively or conservatively? Both have their place, and Championship Sailing lays out the circumstances under which approach is the best bet. Put another way, Jobson seems to have considered every possibility and gives a combination of options that will work to get a few boat lengths

News & Views for Southern Sailors

you might not have gotten otherwise. Jobson’s writing style is both fluid and lucid. Sailboat racing is also fluid, but the lucidity of it sometimes defies explanation. The time to have things figured out and cataloged is before you get to the racecourse. By paying careful attention to both the text and the many illustrations in Championship Sailing, a racing sailor who already has some experience can improve his comprehension of the possibilities and probabilities out on the course. There are those who think protests are petty and morally penurious—and I will admit here that I was once of that persuasion—but protesting another yacht in a race is as much a part of sailing competition as getting a good start. So, just as you have to know how to start well, you also See BOOK REVIEW continued on page 75


October 2005