There is no one word to describe sailing and especially yacht
racing and it's impossible to rank the benefits we receive from
the sport, so I'll just throw some thoughts on paper in no
It's humbling! Nobody wins them all. The history of
yacht racing is littered with
stories of boats that led from the start and were ahead at every
mark only to have a tragic turn of luck, giving up the race
in the last few hundred yards. Two years ago a friend and fellow
sailor had sailed a beautiful series. As we turned the last mark
before the finish line he was half way up the course. No one was
going to catch him. And then he sailed into a hole. When we passed
him he had lost the race. When two other boats past him, he had
lost the series ...to us. The following year, same series, we
couldn't sail out of our own way and he easily beat us. Just when
you start to think you've mastered the sport the elements conspire
to remind you that you know nothing.
Good company! Nothing builds friendship like trusting
your property and life to someone else.
Recent events like the
Around Alone and the Sydney-Hobart race remind us that sailing can
be dangerous. In big wind and big water a crew must come together.
Even without Mother Nature's rath sailing is a wonderful team sport
that builds life long friendships.
The challenge! Sailing is half art, half science and
half luck. Learning to fly between wind and water is a life
long pursuit. On the water conditions constantly change and all
of the controls interact with each other. Each time you adjust
one line you have to adjust everything else to go along with it.
The team that makes the fewest mistakes wins the race ...usually.
Nothing and I do mean nothing is as fulfilling as sailing your
The preparation! You can't play hockey without a stick,
you can't play baseball without a glove and you can't win a race
without preparing your boat. Well, you can, but not very often.
From the bottom to the sails this is your chance to go over every
inch of your boat.
The hunt! You have done everything right,
the gun go off and you get a good start
only to find that someone else has done it a little bit better.
Most races are between you and the boat just ahead of you. Hours
of challenge and reward reeling in your competitor. One by one
you hunt them down and pick them off ... if you can. The boat
just behind you is trying to hunt you down and you have to stay
awake ... stay ahead. You are both hunter and prey.
The chess match! You develop your strategy and play
out your tactics in anticipation and reaction to the rest of the
fleet. Imagine playing chess where every piece is a queen, they are
all moving at the same time and you have to beat them all to win.
The party! Every race ends with a party. The winner
gets bragging rights for the day, the rest plot their revenge.
And in yacht racing every dog has his day. It's all good fun
and good friends.
Life! After 17 hours of pounding upwind in a gale life's
other problems seem very very tiny.
Next month we'll discuss how to get started.