Youth Sailing Forum

How I Got My Sailing Grin

by Aaron Dornbrand-Lo

Aaron Dombrand-Lo poses in his new 29’er which he won for his sailing essay, “How I Got My Sailing Grin.” Over 600 essays were submitted in the contest sponsored by SunSail. Northern Breezes teamed-up by publishing the contest. Visit and watch for this feature in future editions.
Freelance youth writers are welcome and encouraged here.

My parents aren't sailors. My mom thinks the main sheet is a sail, and my dad thinks heeling means running like mad. But they both recognize my sailing grin, which erupts when you put water, a boat, and me in the same place.

I think the grin first appeared my second summer of sailing. On the last day of the session there was a long race in which we sailed from one checkpoint to another, following clues leading to a stash of candy. We were paired in Lasers or else in threesomes in Flying Juniors. I was in a Laser with a more experienced sailor. On the second to last leg, we had to sail backwards a fair distance. When we found the final clue to the candy, the rest of the fleet was so far behind we thought we had missed a checkpoint. We waited for about twenty minutes for the others to catch up and tell us our mistake. Finally, after leaving a note to prove we had been there, we headed in to the finish (and the candy). There we learned that we had indeed been to all the checkpoints. We finished thirty minutes before everyone else, which was a surprise and a thrill. In fact it was more exciting than some larger regattas I've sailed in since then.

I don't always win races and there isn't candy at the end of every sail, but there are always surprises. I love using my brain—not just the thinking part but the instincts I've developed—to speed over the water. Sometimes I don't even feel the water, and it's almost like flying. It's just the boat and me—no engine—working with nature. It's a great experience every time, and I grin just thinking about it.

Untitled (12-15 Years)

by Meredith Pickett

When I think of my experiences with sailing, two words come to mind, freedom and unpredictability. I now realize what attracted me to sailing in the beginning and why I continue sailing.

It's human nature to yearn for freedom, and I'm human. When I go sailing, I feel free and can do whatever I want to do. Whether that entails sailing straight into the horizon or heeling is up to me and my current mood. Also, when sailing the skipper is free to make changes and choices.
I don't know how many times I have thought, "should I hold my course or head to the puff?" It's not like saying, "should I do my homework or not?" The freedom of sailing is what addicted me to sailing.

If freedom addicted me to sailing, the unpredictability made me love it. The first time I ever went sailing, a storm came up. One minute we were sailing in great weather, and the next minute it was pouring down rain! We capsized a lot before sailing to shore. For a ten year old on a sunfish with two girls in hysterics, I should have been terrified, but I was exhilarated. I could not wait to go out sailing the next day! From that day on, I loved sailing, especially the fact that everything could change in a second.

Sailing gives you a certain sensation that is hard to explain. Whenever I get on a beam reach where I'm heeling a lot, I can't keep the smile off my face. It is like the part of your brain that stores all of your stress has been opened and all of your troubles fly away like ripped telltales. In a world that is so uptight, I'm glad I have the freedom and unpredictability of sailing.