|1) 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 beer. The point
is to have fun, but stay safe. Like the ad says, "Safe boating
is no accident."
2) Thou shalt honor the racing rules if
thou knowest them. The current US Sailing Racing Rules, unless
specifically stated elsewhere in the Sailing Instructions, is
the 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
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) Thou shalt not protest thy neighbor.
This is extremely tacky at this level of competition and should
be avoided at all costs. Perhaps it's justifiable if one's boat
is damaged and blame needs to be established, but on the whole,
tossing a red flag is the height of bad taste in something as
relatively inconsequential as a beer canner. Besides proving
that you're unclear on the concept of beer can racing, it screws
up everybody's evening, including yours. Don't do it - it's bad
7) Thou shalt not mess up thy boat. Everybody
knows some hardcore weekend warrior who ripped his sails up in
a Friday night race and had to sit out the champion-ship race
on Saturday. The point is that it's not worth risking your boat
and gear in such casual competition: like the song says, you
got to know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em. Avoid
other boats at all costs, not to mention buoys and other hard
objects. If you have the luxury of two sets of sails, use the
8) Thou shalt always go to the yacht club
afterwards. Part of the gestalt of beer can races is bellying
up to the yacht club bar after the race. Etiquette demands that
you congratulate the winners, as well as buy a round of drinks
for your crew. Besides, the bar is a logical place to see old
friends and make new ones. However, when meeting new sailors,
avoid the gung-ho, overly serious types who rehash the evening
in such gory detail that the post mortem (yawn) takes longer
than the race. As much as we enjoy a quick romp around the cans,
there's more to life.
9) Thou shalt bring thy spouse, kids, friends
and whoever else wants to go. Twilight races are great forums
for introducing new folks to sailing, such as your neighbors,
out-of-town visitors, co-workers or maybe even the family dog.
Always bring your significant other along, too - coed crews are
happy crews. And don't just make the newcomers watch - give them
a job on the boat. Get everyone involved.
10) Thou shalt not worry; thou shalt be
happy. Leave the cell phone in the car, bring the ghetto
blaster. Lighten up, it's not the Big Boat Series. Have fun,
and we'll see you out there!