A funny thing happened this past weekend while I was coaching. During lunch, I wandered over to a circle of dudes standing around a Melges 24, some writing feverishly, others gazing in awe of the sailor giving the clinic. This is perfectly understandable, as the sailor in question was Melges 24 World Champion Richard Clarke who was giving a briefing on tuning and boat setup.
As I stood there eavesdropping on the tuning talk, I sensed something strange. What was it? Just couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I realized that what I was sensing was “Man Crush.” Oh yes, Man Crush. There it was in plain daylight…a group of professional and sucessful guys, standing on the ground, literally looking up at their personal sailing God, wishing that they were even a fraction as cool as this particular salty, briney sailor. In all honesty, it was borderline cute.
Man crushes. Dudes woshiping their sport heroes. Girl crushes. Standing in the boat park when suddenly Lobke Burkhout, four time 470 World Champion, asks to borrow your phillips head screwdriver, and all you can do is fumble and drop it on her foot. Oops.
But that’s one of the biggest things that sailing can offer which other sports can’t. Accessibility to our heroes. In what other sport can you pack up your gear, truck on over to the next world championship event, and start on the same line as the pros, the regining world champion, or the reigning Olympic gold medalist? That’s just plain rad. Our sport is often seen as inaccessible to the public, but it’s one of the few sports where the elite are actually very accessible.
So who is your sailing hero? Does this person make you want to go out and shred? Do you know who today’s sailing heroes are? This past weekend, Richard Clarke inspired half a dozen Melges 24’s, or about 30 people, to leave their chores, their kids’ soccer games, or that nagging spring cleaning, and go train. Would this have happened otherwise? Probably not. Sure, these folks could have gone out and practised on their own, they could have also used the tuning guide to set up their boats; but that’s not the point. It’s that little bit of bro-mance, that brushing shoulders with glory and the person with the courage to live their dream, that gets the rest of us out for some much needed practice. Long live man crushes, and long live bro-mance.