Why Race Sailboats?It’s almost automatic. Two sailboats out for an afternoon on the water, wind filling the sails, waves gently slapping at the hulls, a friendly hand held high in acknowledgment of the other. Then the helm is turned, the boats aligned, sails sheeted in just a bit. The pace quickens, the skippers each turn their focus to getting some additional boatspeed, and suddenly, it’s a race. No course, no marks, just an informal challenge and a natural desire to “see what she can do.”
Sailboat racing has been around from about the time that the first two working sailing craft headed back to harbor after a day at the nets, and almost anyone I know says “I’ve always wanted to try sailing.”
Sailing requires a blend of both brains and brawn, a bit of the weatherman, physics major, engineer, gym rat, politician, and psychiatrist. There are so many variables; the wind velocities and shifts, the waves, the presence of other boats. And then there is the boat itself; how you set your sails, your degree of heel, and the manner in which you execute your moves. It is a complete and unending challenge. That’s when I joined the Lakes Region Sailing Club, about twenty years ago. I have a different boat today but I still race in the club.
So why race, you might ask?
Race because racing gives sailing a goal and improves your sailing. Nothing tells you that you need to do something differently more quickly than seeing as a neighboring boat smoothly pass you by as your boat rocks in the waves. And good sailors are generally happy to tell you their secrets. Well, at least some of their secrets, anyway! Racing makes your overall experience of sailing better. It increases your enjoyment to be able to do something well. And it increases your degree of comfort and safety when the conditions on the water start to get difficult as they sometimes do. Skill in big wind and waves is a real asset, minimizing improper helm balance and incorrect sail trim which can lead to equipment failures and breakages.
You say that you’ve never sailed before? That’s where the Lake Region Sailing Club comes in. Speak with a club member. Or click “Contact Us” on the Club Website at www.lakeregionsailingclub.com and go from there. There are many who can take you aboard for a day sail or even a race, and other than being comfortable aboard a boat, no experience is necessary. If you have sailed but never raced, participating on another’s boat is a great way to find out if racing is for you. The Lake Region Sailing Club takes a low pressure approach to racing. It’s all about having fun. Any boat and any degree of experience is welcome.
So, give it a try. You might find that it’s a dimension of your life that ends up being a passion. And a passionate life is a life well-lived!