The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea

"There's more to sail racing than midlife crisis...."

There's More to Racing

As I read Mike Seely's feature on Puget Sound sailboat racing ["The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea," May 3], a sour little stink rose off the newsprint. Sure, it was a pretty well crafted snapshot of competitive sailing. But the hints, sniggers, and bold statements that sailboat racing is only for arrested male adolescents stoked on testosterone, booze, and (gasp!) cigarettes seem very shortsighted. Well, gee, let me count the ways men discharge their post-hunter-warrior urgings. Racing sailboats ridiculously expensive? Of course—at the top end. While Seely's exposé of sail racing's dark underbelly apparently suits Seattle Weekly's hard-charging editorial style, I fear that the article offered little in support of competitive sailing (which not so long ago got substantial Seattle newspaper coverage).

So let an experienced sailboat racer offer some sugar to Seely's sour slant. Puget Sound is a great place to race boats (OK, kinda cold). It doesn't cost $80,000 to get a competitive boat. Due to the miracle of fiberglass, boats built since the 1960s last and last and decrease in price. For under 10 grand, you can buy a competitive boat, join a "cheapie" sailing club, pay the race fees, and participate in some 30 to 40 races per year. If you choose to drink beer and smoke, no one will complain.

Why race, you might ask. Why not a leisurely sail on a sunny day? Well, racing simply takes sailing to a much higher level. There's no ceiling to sailboat racing. Weather and water conditions constantly change. Sail trim never ends. Tactics must improve. To win a sailboat race, you've got to be on top of everything. You'll get better, maybe even be the best racer for a moment, but either a wind shift or that hot young kid down the dock will do a horizon job on you and leave you twisting all night trying to figure out why. And therein lies the addictive challenge.

Ask any of the sailors who competed in the 60-mile Race to the Straits last weekend why they did it, and you'll hear words like "fun," "challenging," "exhausting," and "fulfilling." Kinda human, huh? There's more to sail racing than midlife crisis, and Mike Seely knows that.

Steve Bunnell


I'm no Yuppie

The current social-economic crisis in America is manifesting itself in new forms of misdirected prejudice [Mossback, "Trouble in Vanilla City," May 3]. We moved to the South End of the city three years ago: Beacon Hill/Rainer Valley area. We are white and lower to mid middle class. My wife and I have a combined income of less than $78,000 a year, and we have one child. With the help of all our in-laws, we bought a new town home in this area because this is the last area in Seattle that we can afford. I know seven other families in similar circumstances in this area. We are all tired of being considered the new gentrification! Since when have struggling lower-middle-class families been labeled as "gentrified"? Is that the state of the country now? Unless you are dirt poor and nonwhite, you are considered a rich yuppie pushing out the minorities? We live from paycheck to paycheck, and so do all my white "gentrified" friends. I recall that Karl Marx said that the real revolutionary class is the "working-class," or proletariat. That's all we are—working class. Well, occasionally on nice days my wife and I sit on our little "gentrified" deck and sip a glass of $4.95-a-bottle red wine we got on sale with our Safeway club card, and I'm sure that everyone poorer than us seethes in hatred when they see us there being so rich and gentrified.

Certain people and groups need to get their beliefs and concepts in order! We are all in this together, and the middle class are not the oppressors.

Lewis Stockill


The Diversity Mess

Excellent article [Mossback, "Trouble in Vanilla City," May 3]! As a white woman with a degree in sociology who was raised around black Americans, I have a unique viewpoint and special interest in this topic. Being exposed to black American culture when I was young, and having white people open up to me as an adult about their true feelings about blacks because they assume I feel the same, has given me some insights that seem to be rare. Race is a very complex issue. There are underlying feelings from parental influence and intellectual ideas from society about how people think they should feel. Knute Berger's example of India is a valid one. You could also use Native Americans and the romanticizing of that culture. The movie Black Robe was an excellent example of showing Native Americans in a realistic light as opposed to Dances With Wolves. People filter through their own neuroses, which may consist of competitiveness, guilt, feelings of inadequacy, or maybe their fantasies that some type of utopia exists or existed. Seattleites do like to talk a good story of "diversity," but the reality of its existence is much more messy, and this city doesn't like messes that are inconvenient. Thanks for getting some conversation started.

Claire McDaniel


No butts

The reason the Mirabeau Room is failing has nothing to do with smoking [Buzz, May 3]. There is only about one person who works there who is not rude, and the place often looks like it is closed (because they don't want people from the bus stop coming in?). I went there a lot until the personnel stopped providing any kind of service. The last few times, I would sit and sit, then have to walk up to the bar to get my drink or food ordered. This happened in both the front and in the back areas several times. When I brought friends along, they could not believe it and vowed never to return. Again, this has nothing to do with smoking. And for this they expect tips?

Carla Geis


The Art of Zinn

In his review of Anthony Arnove's book, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal ["The Home Front," May 3], David Stoesz chastises the author for a "Blame America First" mentality. Stoesz complains, "Never mind our democracy (no matter how flawed), our Bill of Rights, and the Voting Rights Act; in the eyes of Arnove (and his mentors Zinn and Chomsky), it's all bad, everything is our fault."

This makes one wonder if Stoesz has actually ever read the work of Howard Zinn, who wrote the introduction to Arnove's book. For one thing, Zinn might take issue with Stoesz's use of the word "our." In A People's History of the United States, Zinn writes, "Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interests . . . between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex."

Moreover, Zinn applauds the Declaration of Independence's assertion of the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," while pointing out how often it is violated by U.S. government policies. He cites numerous instances where the U.S. has invaded or used proxy forces in other countries—among them Chile, Guatemala, the Philippines, Indonesia, El Salvador, Iraq, and Iran—to install or prop up authoritarian regimes friendly to U.S. business interests.

One of the main themes of Zinn's work is that throughout U.S. history, people have fought for ideals like liberty and justice that, for political leaders, were just empty words. That isn't "Blaming America First," it's "Taking Democracy Seriously."

Jean Fallow


We seriously want to hear from you: Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to Letters should be less than 250 words. By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow