Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Head of the class

I think we did pretty well, for newbies

Saturday morning dawned … well, not bright, but certainly early, considering we had just traveled 1000 miles, arriving about 9 p.m. Friday night. We drove under chilly, overcast skies and intermittent mist to the Houston Yacht Club, where we met our instructors and fellow students, many of whom were taking this race management seminar to earn or re-certify credentials as regional or national race officers. This wasn’t a small, local sort of workshop; participants came from places like Louisiana, Florida, and Ohio.

We started the day with coffee and pastries served up by the yacht club. We then had some pretty intensive lessons, with a couple of breaks for lunch and snacks. We finished the day with an essay exam, which isn’t required for the club level certification that Pat and I came for, but we decided to take it anyway, just to see what it was like. It wasn’t too bad, and one of the questions – one many of our classmates found difficult – was especially easy for us: scoring a race. About the only thing different from what we’ve usually done was doing it on notebook paper rather than cocktail napkins. We don’t yet know how we did on the exam, but I think we both did all right.

After the exam, we got in touch with some cousins of Pat’s who live in the area, and we went to dinner at a seafood place near the boatyard where one of Pat’s cousins works. It was interesting to hear some of the tales of Pat’s family and various adventures that happened when he was younger. One other highlight of the evening was meeting the six cats who share a residence with one of Pat’s cousins and her husband and son.

Once back at the motel, Pat and I did some more studying, but we were exhausted enough that we didn’t last long. In particular, my digestive system rebelled, and I lost my dinner.

The second day of classes was much like the first, beginning with breakfast, then intensive lessons, lunch, and more lessons, culminating in an objective exam to test our knowledge. Since Pat and I were aiming for race management certification at the club level, we could have taken the basic exam. But we decided to go ahead and try the advanced exam, which many of the others in the class were taking to get certified or re-certified at the regional or national level.

To get a certification at the club level required a 75 on the advanced exam; for regional certification, 85; and for national, 90. My unofficial preliminary score was 89; Pat’s was 93. It looks like we will soon have everything but some practical time on the water as Principal Race Officers to get certified at the club level, and then once we get even more experience, we can get the regional certification. That will be a major accomplishment, as there aren’t all that many regional race officers nationwide.

Since I have to work Monday afternoon, we wanted to get as far as possible driving Sunday night, so we left as soon as we could. We headed through Houston – fortunately, there’s not so much rush-hour traffic on Sundays – and westward as night fell, with overcast and drizzle and fog. We stopped at a barbecue place in New Braunfels for supper along the way. As we continued westward, we worked on the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions for an upcoming regatta, and we arrived in Fort Stockton about 2 a.m. We got a good rate on a fantastic (freshly remodeled) room at the “Superior Occidental”; it was a pity we were able to enjoy it for only a few hours, most of those asleep.

Monday was clear and windy, but not cold (pretty good for sailing, actually, if only there were a lake around), as we turned northward for the final leg of the journey back to Albuquerque and – sigh – work.

We have definitely learned a lot this weekend. Just as Tillerman does for his loyal readers when he comes back from this sort of learning experience, I plan to use this blog to share some of the wisdom I have picked up. In addition, Pat and I will be holding race committee training for sailors in New Mexico, to improve the quality of race management at Elephant Butte and revive the racing at Heron. And we’ll be working with Zorro to restore some semblance of formality to our Notices of Race and Sailing Instructions. I’m afraid the cocktail napkins will just have to go.

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Blogger Carol Anne said...

One correction: Actually, it was the "Superlative Occidental," not the "Superior" in Fort Stockton.

Mon Feb 12, 09:37:00 PM MST  
Blogger Pat said...

For those with a statistical bent,

Area Race Managers and Judges:

SAIL (CO, NM, WY, part of NE):
2 club-level race managers, 1 judge, 1 senior judge

CSSA (OK, KS, etc.):
4 club-level, 1 regional race manager, 3 judges, 3 senior judges

TSA (Texas): 21 club-level, 10 regional, 2 national race managers, 5 judges, 6 senior judges

Wed Feb 14, 04:25:00 PM MST  
Blogger Pat said...

And a wee technicality; according to the e-mail from our chief instructor last Monday, my score actually wasn't a 93, although I did still qualify at the national level on the exam.

Mon Feb 19, 12:44:00 PM MST  

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