Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jo Roesler (GER 425)

Name: Joachim Roesler
Nickname: "Jo", "JoRoe", "JoR", "Dr. Jo" - you tell me
Sail No: GER 425
Boat name: wat mutt dat mutt
Country: USA/Germany
Sailing Club: HSC
Weight: 180 lbs
Height: 6'
Age: 51

Number of years sailing (and on what)? Since age 14, starting out on Vauriens, Klepper dinghies, Moths, H-Jolle, on the Lake of Constance in southern Germany. A Contender was my first own boat, and ever since then I have always had one. Later in Kiel I also did some big boat and multi-hull racing and cruising, including races across the North Sea to Scotland and back. We moved in 1990 from Germany to Connecticut, and discovered the Roton Point Beach Association (site of the 1995 Contender Worlds). I kept a Hobie 18 there, then I crewed for a few years with Sonars for very tactical racing. I experimented on my Contender with a larger rig and wings to keep up with the multi-hulls of Roton Point, that was pre-Musto Skiff. I'll bring the rig to Kingston.

Number of years sailing the contender? Since 1977. When I left the army in Germany, at age 20, I had scraped the money together to buy my first Contender. That was an old yellow Rondar. Boats #2, #3 and #4 I built myself. I'm now on Contender #6, a 1995 Bonezzi.

Why did you get on the Contender? I have to blame reading a Paul Elvstroem book. Somewhere in it he lauds single handed trapeze sailing, going as far as saying that "if you can sail a single handed trapeze boat, you can sail anything". I figured, why not start at the top. There was his own trapeze dinghy with which he tried to popularize the concept. Upon closer inspection of course the Contender emerged as the much better design, and a trial sail with Schappi's boat in the fall of 1976 in Kiel quickly won me over. Before that I had rigged a Klepper two-person dinghy from my high school with a long tiller extension and sailed it single handed. Somewhere I have an old b/w picture. I'll try to find it.

Number of Worlds? First one 1977 in Kiel. Fewer since we live in the US.

Favourite Worlds Moment? I like the buildup to it in the days before, the getting together, meeting old friends again from all over the world, and making new ones during the course of the week.From the past, of course I like to remember the occasional moments when I thought I sailed well. I always seemed to have good speed on Lake Garda. The free sailing on a too breezy day in Sardinia was just spectacular. In hindsight I also cherish the tough and ugly days, like you get them in England, where just making the finish line can seem like an accomplishment. It feels good to come in 5th in a race where from a 75 boat fleet only 50 start and 25 finish. Of course, the older I get, the better I was.

Favourite Food? Many. Good bread. Espresso. Mediterranean ingredients, Italian cooking, Peruvian ceviches, Japanese aesthetics, Brazilian grilled meats, real American smoked BBQ, Austrian cakes, some German classics.

How do you keep in shape? Not enough of course. Some Contender sailing, working out with light weights, biking, hiking my paraglider up mountains. I hate running.

Stupidest thing you've done on the boat? Hmmm. That I both care to remember and admit? Well, there was i.e. that perfect summer day with a light steady breeze, when I tried to show off by trapezing on my shoulders (feet out). It worked quite well and for a long time. Unfortunately, I did it on port, and got flattened by a keel yacht which couldn't understand how I would not have seen them. But wait, there is more…

Goals for the 2008 Worlds? Enjoying myself. Finishing every race. Staying out of trouble. Sailing fast and well enough to be able to focus on sailing smart (questionable). Seeing if I can catch up to the present speed level in the class after upgrading to all the fancy carbon stuff (questionable). Making it through the week without Ibuprofen (there is hope).

What you'd like to do/see at the 2008 Worlds? I have sailed in Kingston before of course, and know how pleasant the sailing there is. I hope we'll the usual nice mix of weather conditions. I'm not a fan of the trend to a lot of short races. Two per day is definitely the maximum for serious events, and I don't think I'd want two scheduled for every single day, especially if it's breezy and easier to break stuff. I think it's a great idea for weekend and club races, where it can feel like a waste to have driven hundreds of miles for only one start per day, especially if you mess them up. But in a World Championship I'd rather like to see longer races that count and that take all your focus. 10 races in 6 or 7 days are more than enough. Maybe people feel that in a 45 min race they could get lucky once and hold a finish ahead of their usual placements, but I don't think that's what a World Championship should be about.

Any other comments? Some Sunday night back in Europe, driving home from yet another light wind/rainy/cold/protested/not-finished-first regatta, I decided to enjoy my regattas no matter what. It's not my livelyhood after all. Since then I have been a little bit more selective about where I race, and how I approach it. If I can sail only a limited number of weekends, I'll gladly drive twice as far to a place with sun, breeze or good food. I prefer places that are original and attractive and I'll make use of it. I'll have a good time no matter how the sailing goes, although that doesn't mean that I don't get focused and competitive once I'm on the water. The people one can meet in sailing are interesting, and tend to be individualists. That's especially true in a class like the Contender. It's worth getting to know everyone. Bigger regattas are a challenge because you can't get to all the new sailors you meet in that one week.

Other things I learned: I took up paragliding in 1986, and hang gliding in 2002. Only on a strictly relaxed and recreational base, no competitions. The aerodynamics of flight are very familiar to a sailor, and lots of other pilots are sailors too. But it was eye opening for me to be studying and experiencing the weather now in three dimensions rather than two. Everything that is happening on the ground is of course connected to the conditions at higher altitudes.

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