Takos Tangle

This article was originally posted to SlSailing.com on Feb 22, 2009

Tako Toreadors

Today Saxxon Domela announced the final schedule for the Mowry Sprints Regatta set for March 7, 2009.

Mowry Sprints
March 7 2009

12:00 Live Music: RockPianoman 12-1:00
12:15 Skippers meeting at the Cloud
12:30 Jacqueline Trudeau Introduces her newest creation
12:35 ACC Boat Parade
12:44 Fly Over
12:45 Racers Rez
12:50 Practice Starts
1:00 M-Sprint #1
1:10 F-Sprint #1
1:20 M-Sprint #2
1:30 F-Sprint #2
1:40 M-Sprint #3
1:50 F-Sprint #3
2:00 Finale Participants Announced
2:05 Finale
2:15 Awards in Saxxie’s Shop
2:20 Party on
2:00-3:00 Live Music: Oldwolf Criss

Tako Trouble

A good deal of controversy accompanies the Mowry Sprint Regatta. This will be the first interclub competition since the 2006 SLSF Cup and some have argued pretty strongly that contests that pit club against club are divisive and inappropriate. Frankly, I disagree. I think it’s about time.

SLSF Cup 2006 Challenger Act IIn 2006, The Second Life Sailing Federation announced the SLSF 2006 Cup. The Cup Committee consisted of Course Director Al Kaiser, Event Director Myrrh Massiel, and Race Director Oliphant Ming. It was a remarkably ambitous and carefully detailed event; even the race charts were works of art. The Cup competition was divided into Team Trials, Challenger Acts, and a Final Match series between Challenger and Defender. Each Yacht Club fielded a team, and competing boats were crewed by 2-4 sailors each, with one serving as captain and another as tactician.

The event had high visibility and strong Linden support. Four new, full sims were added to host the Challenger Acts and final Cup Match races.   In tribute, here are the teams that hit the water that summer:

Flappy’s Marina and Yacht Club (FMYC)
Al Kaiser – Sail Number 21
Flapjack Spatula – Sail Number 22
Ali Akami – Sail Number 23
Sally Lemay – Sail Number 24
Kazenojin Seiringu (KS)
Arrekusu Muromachi – Sail Number 31
Cubey Terra – Sail Number 32
Kanker Greenacre – Sail Number 33
Myrrh Massiel – Sail Number 34
Mowry Bay Yacht Club (MBYC)
Jamey Sismondi – Sail Number 41
Sky Seattle – Sail Number 42
Lillie Guildenstern – Sail Number 43
Tasha Kostolany – Sail Number 44
Starboards Yacht Club (SYC)
Faykin Odets – Sail Number 51
Cory Copeland – Sail Number 52
Cutter Rubio – Sail Number 53
Drift Monde – Sail Number 54
Vagabonds Yacht Club (VYC)
Oliphant Ming – Sail Numbers 11
Skippy Spatula – Sail Number 12
Theodore Polonsky – Sail Number 13
Pixeleen Mistral – Sail Number 14
Jamey Sismondi

The names on the above list should be familiar even to casual SL sailors; they were the giants of SL Sailing legend who built this group into a diverse, multifaceted community, something far more than a ‘computer game.’ How giant were they? well, just to give you one example, while jamey Sismondi was the unbeatable king of speed under sail at Mowry that summer, his other fun project was to produce a complete solo recording of Samuel Butler’s translation of Homer’s Iliad ( cough… and which Greek Classic did you work on last night?).

Actually, I don’t think they make Renaissance avatars like Jamey anymore… They’re banned under the new LL Openspace Sim policy, I’m pretty sure.

Anyway, although it was very well planned, the SLSF Cup was disrupted by griefing that became serious with Challenger Act 5. Espresso Saarinen suffers griefPixeleen Mistral published a partial summary of the issues at the time in the Second Life Herald, conveying some of the sense of frustration the sailors and organizers were experiencing. The races were delayed a week, but the full race schedule did go off according to the rules and the cup was enshrined at Kazenojin Seiringu. Arrekusu Muromachi’s winning boat was reverently decommissioned, put up om blocks, and prominently displayed at the Cecropia Annex.  In the months after, I saw her race a few times at NYC, in both Takos and Trudeaus. Each occasion, she blew us all away; there was no question Arrekusu deserved the Cup. I asked Glida Pilote today if the name Arrekusu Moromachi evoked any image for him. As usual, Glida cut to the essence: “A Quick Bugger… Furry, I think.”
With the pressure of the competition and the disruption caused by griefing, apparently harsh words were shared and accusations were made by members of different clubs. After the Regatta concluded, a few individuals remained rather disgruntled, despite the fact the races had completed successfully. Besides, it certainly was not the first time, and unless an asteroid strikes pretty soon, would not be the last time tempers flared or voices were raised over an athletic competition. Nonetheless, many felt that SLSF 2006 indicated that inter-club competition could be destructive, and possibly damage any emerging spirit of community among sailors. So, without a word publicly spoken, the multiple yacht clubs stopped planning any interclub regattas.
I have limited personal insight into any of this, since the SLSF regatta concluded right before I joined SL. I knew there was a problem, but I also knew SLSailing was a great community. I thought the best way to fix any sailing problem was to get all the sailors back out on the water.  Over eighteen months, I tried on three separate occasions, being as silly and nonthreatening as possible, to get interclub races going again. Each time I was told no, and the explanation was some variation of “it would hurt sailing.” I was told interclub competition would feed ill will, and cause all the resentment and anger sailors felt against each other to boil over. The way it was described sounded like some kind of uncontrollable, unsightly eruption…  sort of like a bad case of acne, I guess.  We couldn’t have that.
I actually never understood that explanation, but I did accept it. God knows, I certainly didnt want to hurt sailing.  But let me tell you: I have heard that explanation now repeatedly for nearly 2 years. I’ve considered it with patience, thought, and much accumulated evidence, but now  I am strongly convinced that explanation is simply shallow, sensless and without merit on face value.
Yacht clubs compete the same way any other sports team does.  There is a level playing field and mutual respect. Integrity and sportsmanship are as vital and as important as physical strength or agility. Sailors  in RL or SL don’t compete because they hate the competition or want to hurt their opponents; it’s actually the opposite. They do it because they love the sport, they love the challenge, and they love being together. And yes, they even love their opponents.
Let’s go back to that list of people from 2006 above. Uncontrollable anger and rage boiling over? I appreciate I was not there, but am I really supposed to believe Kanker Greenacre is a violent threat to sailors? Or Myrrh? perhaps Cubie? … I could go through the whole list.
And maybe I wasn’t there in 2006,but I am here now.  We’re supposed to fear inter-club competition because we can’t risk the animosity that could break out between the clubs. Let’s see… Chad Aislin, Saxx, Francois, Taku, Bea, Liv, Epi… Yup;  big danger of a violent destructive outburst in that crowd.  When discussing this last week with Epi I joked: “So, if Chad wins, are you going to punch him out?“   Epi paused for a moment, a little startled, and replied “…do I have to?”
I’m sorry, I don’t buy this ‘angry sailor’ argument.  There have indeed been difficult misunderstandings and angry interactions in the sailing community on occasion over the past 18 months and I may be wrong, but to my memory not a single one of them involved a sailing issue.   Our willingness to share with each other in competition and our mutual love of ships and the sea reflect our communal values and our spirit.
I think we should give Saxxon Domela a rousing round of applause for reminding us who we are. We are sailors, we are one together, of course we want to compete and share with each other.

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