Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Corinthian Is "Corinthian"?

Corinthian is an adjective that denotes “amateur” in sports and as such is predicated upon whether athletes are or aren’t compensated. But, the word has been loaded with connotations such as sportsmanship, fair play, volunteerism, pursuit of pleasure, competence, individualism, dandyism, dilettantism, social elitism, avoidance or denigration of professionalism, and opposition to the pursuit of profit or role of business in sport.

Dictionaries may not be a great deal of help as they may send the reader on an exploration of architectural columns, brothels, currant fruits, ostentation, and the ancient southern Greek city of Corinth.

Wikipedia is slightly more helpful, mentioning among less helpful items a definition of Corinthian spirit as an “especially high standard of sportsmanship”.

http://amateurchampionship.com/ makes interesting comments,

amateur "lover of," from O.Fr., from L. amatoremnom. amator, "lover,"). Based on etymology, an Amateur is someone who engages in an activity out of love. As a value system, amateurism elevates things done without self-interest above those done for pay (i.e., professionalism)…. By definition amateur sports require participants to participate without remuneration. Amateurism was a zealously guarded ideal in the 19th century, especially among the upper classes, but faced steady erosion throughout the 20th century….

Ironically, sailing has taken the opposite course. Around the turn of the century, much of sailing was professionals paid by interested idle rich. Today, sailing, especially dinghy sailing, is an example of a sport which is still largely populated by amateurs…. In large keelboat racing, … this amateur spirit has given way in recent years to large corporate sponsorships and paid crews, but even there one will occasionally find a team that stays true to the Corinthian ideal.

The www.englishforums.com forum attempted to start a discussion at http://www.englishforums.com/English/CorinthianValues/hqvcg/post.htm but that didn’t get very far.

The Google books excerpt of Richard Mayne’s “The language of sailing” shows quite a bit of puzzlement,

“Although ‘pertaining to Corinth’ is the obvious meaning of the term, the logic of its meaning ‘amateur’ is puzzling….”

and speculates

“the word may have had overtones of dilettantism when it was adopted in the early years of yacht racing to describe owners who sailed their own boats….”

Speculations about the origin of “Corinthian” as it relates to sport might be attempted with respect to the Biblical books or to the ethics of classical Greek athletes or sailors from Corinth.

The term crops up in yacht club names starting in 1872, and there is also a sailing organization at the www.thecorinthians.org/ domain. Harpers Magazine has been quoted as an early user of the term in a sporting context. Many yacht and sailing clubs make awards to skippers and crews who exhibit “Corinthian” values, which can reflect anything from success with all-amateur crews to conformity with ideals of sportsmanship.

The New York Times archives contains a May 22, 1887 article (The Amateur Skippers; Men Who Sail Their Own Yachts”, http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9E07E2DC1730E633A25751C2A9639C94669FD7CF ) with quotes that could still generate debate (modern readers will most likely want to adjust the gender references). “….It is only by sailing his own boat that a man can get the highest pleasure out of yachting…. The man who is obliged to turn over the command of his vessel…to a … professional skipper, is only a passenger on his yacht…. On the other hand, the expert amateur sailor is monarch of all he surveys…. the amateur, owing to his superior education and intelligence, can quickly outrank his professional skipper in the higher branches of seacraft….”

Admirers of the sort of Corinthian sailor that the Times article lionizes might consider the Corinthian sailor or athlete to be a most noble competitor, one who is motivated by a selfless striving for excellence and not by crass commercial gain. Supporters might point to some of today’s pampered big-ego sports millionaires as examples of what’s wrong with money-grubbing sports professionalism. Critics, however, might consider Corinthians to be too narrow-minded, out-of-touch, unrealistic, elitist, or snobbish, and might quote examples of excessive stringency such as the case of the great athlete Jim Thorpe, who was stripped of his Olympic medals for reasons that today’s sports fans might consider trivial.

Oddly enough, sailing, though considered an elite, expensive, equipment-intensive sport, is also one in which ordinary sailors have opportunities to compete against high-level sailors, both Corinthian and professional.

My own use of the term “Corinthian” does not confine itself to the simple definition of amateur participation, but instead also reflects the associated values of fair play and sportsmanship. In the context of a yacht or sailing club, I would consider a true Corinthian club as one that has strong volunteer participation, both on and off the water, and a deep desire to give back to the sport.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Anerine at Heron Lake

The sloop (Cal 2-27) Anerine approaches, while giving a crew of novice sailors a gentle introduction to sailing at Heron Lake.

Skipper Bruce makess some adjustments on deck while his students do chartwork down below.

Sloop Anerine with Brazos Cliffs in background

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Blew By You

After stopping for a swimming break, the crew of "Blew By You" glides along in light breezes at Heron Lake in northern New Mexico.

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Wind warning island at Heron Lake

East side of wind warning island in Heron Lake. The island is situated near the west side of the lake, and north of the dam that impounds the 400,000-acre-foot reservoir.

West side of wind warning island at Heron Lake, with some interesting "rock art"

On Saturday, I spent several hours kayaking, paddling all the way from the Heron Lake Marina to the wind warning island and the entrance to the farthest northwestern cove before returning. It was a much longer paddle than usual for me, but conditions were nearly ideal.

South side of wind warning island at Heron Lake State Park, New Mexico

Boarder paddling wind surf board out to the island


Buoys on the north side of Heron Lake

Worn hazard buoy near the entrance to the northwestern arm of Heron Lake.

Shallow water extends far from a point of land that projects from the north side of Heron Lake; keels can run aground more than a hundred yards from shore in a lake that has depths of more than two hundred feet.

This is supposed to be a hazard warning buoy for shallow water, but it's about to become a submerged hazard itself.

Gangway relief work party at Heron Lake

A nice problem to have... Heron Lake rose a bit more than expected this summer, thanks in part to recent rainstorms. The shoreware end of the marina gangway was more than half a foot underwater at the beginning of the weekend, so the on-duty dockmasters rigged a temporary gangway, foreground, until a crane could be called on Saturday to shift the gangway.

View of the southeast corner of the Heron Lake Marina.

Mobile crane. The crane wasn't powerful enough to pick up the entire gangway with the crane's boom extended, and was only able to move the end of the gangway about twenty feet. However, that may well be enough to accommodate remaining increases in the lake level.

Part of the work crew

Laguna Vista Vistas

View toward Heron Lake showing the area where Willow Creek widens and becomes an arm of the lake. In the distant right can be seen a glimpse of the main body of the lake, and near the far left is a glimpse of sailboat masts at the Heron Lake Marina.

Willow Creek passes through Laguna Vista before filling Heron Lake

View from our front porch

Mule deer passing through our yard

view from the Laguna Vista gate

Los Ojos village and rainbow with Brazos Cliffs

Rainbow with village of Los Ojos, church in center, and Brazos Cliffs beyond

Rio Chama northwest of Los Ojos

Rainbow east of Tierra Amarilla

Rainbow between Tierra Amarilla and the Brazos Cliffs in scenic northern New Mexico.

Rainbow, with Brazos Cliffs beyond

Descanso and distant lake

Descanso (roadside memorial and resting place for the soul) with Heron Lake in the distance.

South of Ghost Ranch

Cerro Pedernal to the SSW of Abiquiu Lake

Storm to the northwest

Tree, Abiquiu Lake, and Cerro Pedernal in distance.
We passed through some scenic rock formations near the northeast corner of Abiquiu Lake, very much in Georgia O'Keefe country.

Scenic drive in northern NM

As of Friday afternoon, we hadn't heard that any sailboat racing was being organized at Elephant Butte Lake, and wind forecasts seemed to indicate not much wind would be there. So, we threw some gear into Babe (our Expedition), and headed north to Laguna Vista and Heron Lake in the mountains near Colorado. Passing near Abiquiu Lake, we drove through and near some thunderstorms.