Yachting punks: interview with Alexander Babitsky, founder of Another Fucking Race.
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Yachting punks: interview with Alexander Babitsky, founder of Another Fucking Race.

Alexander Babitsky, the founder of the Beginner Fucking Race for skippers, about his approach to training, snobbish yachtsmen and the difficulties of non-normative naming.
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The Seanation Yacht School and the Beginner Fucking Race, created by St. Petersburg yachtsman Alexander Babitsky, have been in existence for almost four years. During this time Babitsky has issued skipper licenses to more than 100 graduates and raised AFR to a large annual event, which involves about two hundred people.

Seanation and Another Fucking Race are real punks from yachting: even the logo shows a guy with a Mohawk from sails.

In a mockery of Soviet-era «yachtsmen» they shot a scandalous video showing «torches to» everyone who thinks that the new generation of yachting school graduates have no place in the sea. Neither angry comments on the Internet nor an outflow of sponsors forced the founder to change the name of the regatta, let alone its concept.

ItBoat talked to Alexander Babitsky to find out how the «Sea Nation»was born, what she lives and who she sends away.

About going to yachting

Many years ago I worked as a radio DJ. After that, I did everything I could. Even a funeral agency for animals was, was called OOO «Apostol». We buried cats and dogs, put monuments to them. Yachting got bored: when you do some things that work regardless of your direct involvement, you start to think: what else would you do.

At one point, I met a man who taught yachting. We met him, had lunch and decided that maybe it makes sense for me to fit in too. I went first to Norway, from there to Croatia, then I studied in St. Petersburg. It took a total of four months.

Even before passing the exams and obtaining a license, I booked a yacht in the charter, went to the instructor and said: You «know Misha, here's the thing, I already paid for the yacht, so if I do not pass the exam ... Well, I think you know what I mean». He was leaving. I passed the exams. I didn't have a team then. I just called everybody and said, "«I've got a boat, it'd be nice if you came with me, because otherwise everybody».

Anyway, with blackmail and threats, I recruited a team. I was accompanied by people who not only did not go on the yachts, but have never even seen them. It was a disaster. But we survived.

We got to Venice and went to St. Mark's Square under sails - I guess that's when I knew I'd keep doing it. Then it turned out that no one goes there under the sails: everybody makes a circle of honor on the motor and leaves.

Before coming back from this cruise, I booked the next one, it was Ibiza. It turned out that now I have a lot of friends who sit and wait for me to call them and say: come with me. And it all turned into Sofa Sailors. It's sailing cruises now - so mainstream that there is nowhere else, and six years ago, when we started, there were almost no such offices. I rolled back three years with them, I was on over forty cruises.

At some point I realized that I couldn't skate anymore, because the person who came on vacation is the person who is evolving back towards the monkey.

You go from cruise to cruise, new people come and do not understand what you just opened with them like that - and drink tired, and rust tired, and generally want to sleep.

I realized that I risk hating yachting and people in general.

Around the world

By then, I had bought myself a boat that my wife and I were going around the world on. We bought a boat in Greece, went all the way to the Mediterranean, reached Gibraltar, then the Canary Islands. And then we went to the Caribbean and in this crossing I finally realized to myself that I don't want to go around the world either.

I looked at who really walked across the oceans, and I realized that I was very young.
You're standing in an anchorage somewhere in the Antilles and they're all 68+. Yeah, they're all funny, but it still feels like you're in a nursing home.

The ocean crossing itself is not for me either. I'm not a fan of the minute renewal of Instagram, but the absence of any socialization for 21 days while our transition lasted was not easy for me.

Turns out there's no news in the ocean. Nothing's going on. Not at all.

Satellite Internet is as miserable as the usual Internet in '93. In the first three or four days, the team and I discussed something, talked actively. On the fifth day it became clear that there was nothing more to talk about, and we were silent.

Two members of our team played non-stop chess for a day and a half - they didn't eat, drink or go to bed. They fell into a kind of chess anabiosis: they just rearranged the pieces on the board. Sitting like two robots, they didn't even «announce the «checkmate»» to each other.

When we came to Barbados, the whole team left on the same day. No one even wanted to take a walk on the island. It wasn't a matter of bad relationships, it was just a stupor. We had to get out of that stupor as soon as possible. In this situation, it's best to go to some metropolis. Everyone flew away, and my wife and I were stuck in the Caribbean for five and a half months. We call that time «Caribbean syndrome». It's five and a half months of despondency when you wake up and you have Groundhog Day. That's when I decided I was leaving Sofa Sailors, I wasn't skating anyone else. We're not going anywhere around the world. But I will teach and do regattas for my alumni.

About the Beginner Skipper regatta

I knew a lot of people who had learned, got a skipper's license, but they don't go anywhere, because it's scary to go out to sea. When you start studying, you're not afraid of anything. But the more you learn, the scarier it gets, and by the end of your studies it seems impossible to go out to sea yourself. I was thinking about how to overcome this barrier, and I came to the conclusion that it is necessary to give skippers without any experience of kicking: to take on the weak, to motivate with everything you can, up to a big drink. So three and a half years ago there was another Fucking Race.

I just started calling people and saying: you guys, you learned six months ago and you don't go anywhere, let's buy a lot of alcohol, invite people, take a lot of boats and chase in the morning and drink in the evening. Few of the regatta organizers are telling the truth.

Everyone says no, we don't drink, we're athletes. But in fact, everyone understands that when a skipper goes to a ski briefing, as a rule, he is not yet completely sober.

AFR in this sense is no different from other similar events. But the concept behind this regatta is completely different from everything else on the market today. It concludes with a simple idea: I do not take anyone who knows how to race.

Now in most major Russian-speaking regattas professional racers are hired. That is, people gather a team of their friends and hire a conditional Rodion Luca. Then they take the conditional first place and jump with this cup, although they have not earned the cup. I don't know what to be proud of in this case. That you found the money to pay this racer?

At the exit, it turns out that all races are the same. There are the same people competing with each other for money.

In AFR I call any beginners, but unfortunately I am limited in the fleet. It has to do with taking boats from division to division. People hold events where 70 boats each, from «Bavaria» 30 to Oceanis»52«, and then try to calculate some handicaps. But I know by myself how offensive it is to lose when you're counted like this at the end of the race, and you think it's not fair. And an honest handicap can't be achieved in this way: no measurements, everyone has different sails.

I understand that AFR is not a serious sporting regatta, it's still a flotilla with elements of game history, but still want to have a competitive effect here. I want to do everything as honestly as possible.

This year I have 48 boats, and my Seanation graduates have 120. So it turns out that 75-80% of AFR members are my graduates. They're debutantes, they're all chartering first, second and third in their lives. However, the number of participants from other schools is growing. If last year, roughly speaking, there were two foreign boats for 25 of their own, this year there are seven or eight.

In the regatta, we take safety very seriously. We necessarily pay for full charter fleet insurance, provide serious support from the water - we have four RIBAs running between the boats. In all the years of AFR existence we have had only a couple of cases, both idiotic and non-criminal in consequences. The last AFR last year - and there were 200 people there - did not even have a single lapping. There's never been a human overboard situation in history.

About Seanation School

The Seanation Yachting School is me and, recently, one of my former students who also became an instructor. We are a school in the shower.

I always try to convince the person who came to me. I don't scare you, of course, but I tell you how I teach, and I teach practically like in the army.
Training for Bareboat Skipper license lasts two weeks, we study from 9 am to 1 am daily. Sometimes we can't eat in time. Theory-manoeuvres-theory, and so on, all the time and without a weekend.

I honestly warn everyone this isn't a vacation. If you're tired at work, you'll die here.

I know that many schools are very loyal to learning now. I see their graduates who are simply dangerous to themselves and to their teams. Here, every instructor takes their measurements. I look at a person at the end of training and think: if I was on his boat unconscious, would it be safe for me there? If I say «yes», this man gets a license. If I'm not, no.

I don't have a very high pass rate. I understand that this does not give me a good image and many people do not want to come to me because they think: what the hell - money, time, and then did not give up. But it's even good for me: I like it when only motivated people come to me to study, who understand why they need it. I am sincerely upset when a person learns, passes an exam, and then does not go out to sea.

It's easy with a bad luck. I have an infinite number of reps - free. But there are people that I just don't want to go back to it anymore. There aren't many of them, but I've had them before. I tell them: guys, in my opinion, yachting is not yours. Many of them go to other schools and get their licenses there.

About «the torches of» trumpet yachtsmen

I don't like snobs. People who were lucky to get into yachting schools in the Soviet Union. I am from Peter, but when I was a child I did not touch yachting in any way, and I can not even imagine how my life should have turned out to be at 10 years old on a yacht. But somebody got lucky, and they boast about it.

It's akin to racism. You were born white, and just because you were born that way, you think you're superior.

They compare themselves to those who came to yachting at a mature age and have just begun to develop in it. You're not saying that a driver who drives down the street drives worse than a driver who drives down a racetrack? They're just two different types of drivers. It's the same in yachting: there are two different types of yachtsmen. One learns to be an athlete, and the other walks with family and friends and drinks «Lambrusochka» on board «Bavaria» 56.

In two weeks, I've been teaching «Lambrusochka» guys how to drink. That is, to put the mainsail, to put the stakes, to go out in normal conditions in normal regions during the season, far not to go away and know what to do in case of problems.

These people may or may not develop further towards sport. You have to start with something.

It turns out that people are developing, trying, came up with a wonderful occupation, and here come the old fart, who say: no, you did not study in «Owl», stay at home. It makes me angry.

Our video, where we show the middle finger of trumpet« yachtsmen», is dedicated to such people. It got 7,000 hits in 24 hours when I posted it in one community. 1200 or 1300 comments, of which it turns out that we showed «torches to the» most respected people and so on. That's ridiculous.

For me, the name Another Fucking Race was fundamental - I never even shortened it to AFR.

There were a lot of offers from sponsors, but everyone sent us with that name. Everybody said: change the name or at least beat it somehow, so that there is no word fucking and we will give you money, gifts, something else. But I was played by youthful maximalism.

Now we're so big that it's stupid not to sponsor us.

However, the sponsors we have now are not snobby. And they are not just sponsors: they are interested in it all, they are involved in all this. They are like-minded people. They have teams, they are also chasing, and, to be honest, they are also my graduates. But some of them first became sponsors, and then they went to study. So it's a mutual process.

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