Disappointment for Team Zorro
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Zorro and his crew have earned a slot in the men’s national sailing championship, the Mallory Cup, in San Francisco in September. We could stun the world, if a bunch of nuts from the desert showed up and actually did well.
We’ve been preparing. The Rio Grande Sailing Club pledged money to Team Zorro to help with registration and travel expenses. Zorro and Space Invader were working on lining up corporate sponsors to help with other expenses. Twinkle Toes’ wife lined up super-low-cost airline tickets – and apparently she was really looking forward to the trip, as she loves traveling to exciting places. I was hoping to get in on at least the last couple of days of the regatta, and I was planning on arranging time off from work to do that (I have a union contract that allows me some personal leave, but not enough to take the whole week off).
The problem is that Zorro has recently started a new job. When he hired on, he told his employers that he would need to take a week off in September to compete in the championship, and they said that was OK. But last week, they changed their tune and said that he would be fired if he took the week off.
Zorro can’t afford that. He may be unmarried, but he’s the sole support of a dog and a very large number of cats. He has to pay for canned food, kibbles, cat litter, vet visits, and more. Plus he has to pay a mortgage to keep a roof over all those critters’ heads, and he has to pay utilities to keep the space under that roof heated or air-conditioned for the animals’ health and comfort. So losing his job is not an option for him.
We looked into whether the rest of the team could still go to the championship without Zorro – Penzance could take the helm. But no, that’s not acceptable, since the helmsman is the focus of the championship. All of the rest of the team can be replaced with substitutes, but not the helm. So if Zorro can’t go, the team can’t go.
Part of the problem is the scheduling of the regatta – it starts in mid-week, and thus participants really do have to have the whole week free. That’s fine for people who are retired, or who have upper-level jobs in which they have freedom to schedule time off. It’s not fine for working stiffs who have very little control over their schedules. In addition to being nuts from the desert, many of the members of Team Zorro are working stiffs.
I hear complaints that sailing is unfairly labeled an “elitist” sport, and that it is open to anyone who is interested. But then I see sailboats priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars labeled “entry-level,” and I see regatta scheduling that prevents working stiffs from participating. Yeah, local clubs can run races that are open to anybody who can come up with a fairly nominal entry fee, but the higher levels of competition seem to assume a certain degree of freedom that isn’t available to working stiffs.
I suppose there’s still a chance that Team Zorro can get to San Francisco, but it’s remote. What would be necessary is an employer who won’t fire Zorro for going to San Francisco, so he can keep taking care of the critters and paying the bills. That sort of employer probably doesn’t exist in El Paso.