Friday, September 11, 2009

Hands On: Learn The Racing Rules with David Dellenbaugh DVD

I love tight mark roundings and crowded starting lines.

Love em.

Many, many affections.

Why? Because inside all of the nonsensical, humorously absurd yelling and "you're number one" references is usually a delicious layer of horribly inaccurate racing rules. Seriously, the unintentional comedy during these shouting matches is simply off the charts and should be pitched to FOX as a reality show (since they'll obviously put anything on TV).

This isn't to say that I've never raised my voice on the race course (I have...) or been wrong with the interpretation of a rule (I've seen the inside of protest room once or twice). But with all of the aids that are out there to help you understand the rules, there really wasn't much of an excuse for it.

When you consider that there are books out there like Dave Perry's or Paul Elvstrom's and the average human spends about 18 days a year on the toilet, it's hard to make an argument that you don't have the time...

But the larger of those books is over 350 pages; that's a lot to digest, all that time in the throne room aside. This is why I was kind of excited when I was looking at our Hot New Item this week, the newest version of "Learning the Racing Rules with David Dellenbaugh". This is a 2-DVD set put together by North U. and US Sailing that features, shockingly enough, Dave Dellenbaugh.

For those of you that haven't heard the name before, Dave Dellenbaugh is basically a rules deity here in the US. He is a member of the US Racing Rules Committee and was its chairman while the committee was working on the 2009-2012 Racing Rules of Sailing. So yeah, the guy who lead the committee writing the rules is your host... talk about straight from the horse's mouth.

The Good
Not to get too gushy, but there wasn't much that didn't qualify as "The Good".

There are two DVD's that make up this set. The first disk deals with right-of-way rules and their limitations, covering:
- Basic Principles
- Preamble to Part 2
- Section A (Right of Way): Rules 10 - 13
- Section B (General Limitations): Rules 14 - 17
- Other Rules of Note: Rule 21, Rule 23, Rule 28, Rule 31 and Rule 44

The second disk deals with rules that apply at marks and obstructions, covering:
- Section C: At Marks and Obstructions
- Rule 18: Covering subsections 18.1 - 18.5
- Rule 19: Covering subsections 19.1 and 19.2
- Rule 20: Covering subsections 20.1 - 20.3
- Definitions: Clear Astern and Clear Ahead, Overlap, Mark, Obstruction, Fetching, Mark-Room and Zone


Lest you think that both disks do a quick gloss over of these rules, each disk comes in at about an hour and ten minutes. Each rule starts off with the full text of the rule appearing on the screen, with a narrator reading it aloud. Dave then comes on the screen and starts into a detailed explanation.


The explanations are provided by Dave's narration and a series of different video clips from actual racing, computer generated animations or still images that did a phenomenal job of very clearly illustrating the situation.


Occasionally, when it pertains, Dave also brings in common situations that occur with the rule being discussed, even going as far as to bring ISAF and US Sailing cases in for additional support.


The Bad
I'm usually pretty good at finding little things to poke fun at. I really had a hard time here...

Really, there isn't much to criticize -- the DVD's are by far the most interactive and lively way of learning the rules of the road. If anything, it throws a lot of information at you and it can sometimes be difficult to hear, process and understand everything that is being said. Granted, this is only a problem for those of you with DVD players that have lost the rewind button, but it bears mentioning that you'd probably do well to bring a pencil, paper, rule book, adult beverage and DVD remote with fresh batteries with you when sitting down to tackle these DVD's.

I guess you could argue that the title of the DVD is a little deceiving. The DVD's clearly don't cover all of the rules, but they do touch on all of the most commonly used (and abused) rules. Plus, the DVD set would probably cost like $200.00 and poor David wouldn't have a voice left if they tried to review the whole book.

Oh, Dave does shamelessly position a picture of him and (presumably) his family next to the America's Cup when he was the helmsman of the 1992 winner, America3.

"Look at me, I just helmed the boat that won the oldest active trophy in international sport."

Right... like I wouldn't immediately have that picture of me with the America's Cup tattooed on my back, only to be occasionally covered up by one of those mall photo shirts that has the exact same photo in the exact same place. Just guessing here, but I'd also walk up to complete strangers in the middle of the street and show the photo to them and randomly sign any of their belongings (including, but not limited to, newborn babies and signed Honus Wagner baseball cards) because, well, I won the America's Cup and they haven't.

Good on ya.

Conclusion:
This is a really strong DVD. Really strong. I've skimmed or read most of the books that have come through the shop about rules and these DVD's, while not as complete, were far easier to digest.

Really and truly (scout's honor): I don't know of any non-professionals that couldn't benefit from watching these DVD's. And I can think of a few professionals that could benefit too.

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