challenges you in many ways, with lots of variables: what makes a boat go fast,
the tactics and strategy, the athletic aspect. It's fresh air and exercise,
too. You know, it's hard to get good exercise, and that's a nice byproduct of
Smalley on about frostbiting is what turns him on about sailing. When winter
weather comes and a cold northwesterly stabs off the Westchester shore in dark
spreading surface patterns under an ice-blue sky, it is just another season in
the sailing year.
The saying goes
that there are two kinds of racing sailors: those who frostbite and those who
don't. Where it exists, those who don't are generally not in the top ranks of
summer sailing. Those who do find their summer talents sharpened by the
multiple starts and short courses of the winter sport. Fanaticism, like
practice, makes perfect.
But there are
actually three classes of sailors: those who race only in summer, those who
race summer and winter, and a growing new class—those who race only in winter.
This last group is growing as the cost and time involved in successfully
campaigning a boat during the summer increase.
In general the
winter boats are smaller, cheaper and last longer, and the racing requires
little or no travel and only one day a weekend at a nearby club. Clubs have
offered invitational winter memberships for a fraction of the going annual
dues. From October to May such a member can have full use of the club and its
facilities while enjoying topflight competition and the valuable practice of
Come the thaw,
Smalley doesn't sail at all. "What with the family, frostbiting is really
the only competitive sailing that I can do," he says. "I would prefer
to sail in the summer, but my wife Trix doesn't like to travel, and I don't
blame her. Someday I'll go back to summer sailing, but I don't know what class
of boat I would choose. I thoroughly enjoy frostbiting. Seven starts in
something like two hours is great racing, and I like the competition."
crews for her husband. She is petite, agile and willing. Together Trix and Dave
just make the 300-pound-minimum crew weight. But like many wives and girl
friends, Trix is not as enthusiastic as Dave about frostbiting. "Let's put
it this way," she says. "I'd rather be out there with him than sitting
at home. And at least they give us crews free cocoa—that proves we're colder.
The skippers have to pay for it. If you go over, it's plenty cold. Not while
you're in the water, which is often warmer than the air, but when they pull you
gone over once with Dave. My 'float-coat' kept me dry and mostly above water.
He tipped over once with a girl he was courting before we got married. The boom
caught on a shroud of another boat before the race and started pulling his boat
over. He was facing the other boat, saw what was happening, and stepped into
it. The girl swore he stepped on her shoulder as she went down with his
crew—they are usually lighter than men, and thus do not overload their
craft—but there are only a few women skippers. These are enthusiastic and
fostered an explosion in collegiate sailing; it is an active sport today in
more than 200 colleges and universities across North America. The college
sailing season, from September to November and again from March to graduation
time in May or June, adjoins the frostbite season and is very similar in style.
Ten-to-14-foot boats are used, with a multiple-race format that is
characteristic of winter sailing as opposed to the single-long-race style of
the summer. Women have participated in collegiate sailing in most areas since
it began, for sailing is one of the few sports in which there has been little
discrimination. To attract still more women to collegiate racing, a women's
league has been established.