Rob believed strongly that sailboat racing should be competitive and fun, and to encourage participation at all levels. He was discouraged by the downturn in participation in San Francisco Bay racing, and he was constantly trying to find ways to increase the number of boats on the water.
Rob penned his “Ten Commandments of Beer-can Racing” to help tune our focus…
I) Thou shalt not take anything other than safety too seriously. If you can only remember one commandment, this is the one. Relax, have fun, and keep it light. Late to the start? So what. Over early? Big deal. No instructions? Improvise. Too windy? Quit. Not enough wind? Break out the bee. The point is to have fun, but stay safe. Like the ad says, “Safe boating is no accident.”
II) Thou shalt honor the racing rules if thou knowest them. The US Sailing 2005-2008 Racing Rules, unless specifically stated elsewhere in the Sailing Instructions, is the current rules bible. Few sailors we know have actually studied it cover to cover: it’s about as interesting as reading tax code or the phone book. For beer can racing, just remember some of the biggies (port tack boats shall avoid starboard ones; windward boats shall avoid leeward ones; and outside boats shall give room at the mark). Stay out of the way of bigger boats, pay your insurance premiums and keep a low profile unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing. Like most things, it boils down to common sense.
III) Thou shalt not run out of beer. Beer (a.k.a., brewskis, chill pills, thought cylinders) is the beverage that lends its name to ‘beer can’ racing; obviously, you don’t want to run out of the frothy nectar. Of course, you can drink whatever you want out there, but there’s a reason these things aren’t called milk bottle races, Coca-Cola can races, hot chocolate races or something else. Just why beer is so closely associated with this kind of racing escapes us at the moment, but it’s a tradition we’re happy to go along with.
IV) Thou shalt not covet thy competitor’s boat, sails, equipment, crew or PHRF rating. No excuses or whining; if you’re lucky enough to have a sailboat, just go use it! You don’t need the latest in zircon-encrusted widgetry or unobtanium sailcloth to have a great time out on the water with your friends. Even if your boat’s a heaving pig, make modest goals and work toward improving on them from week to week. Or don’t – it’s only beer can racing.
V) Thou shalt not amp out. No screaming, swearing, or overly aggressive tactics. Save that stuff for the office or, if you must, for Saturday’s ‘real’ race. If you lose it in a Friday nighter, you’re going to run out of crew – not to mention friends – in a big hurry. Downing a quick chill pill on the way to the starting line has been medically proven to have a calming influence on the nerves. Read more about the Ten Commandments of “beer-can racing” here.