Youth Sailing Forum
An Attempt at the Inexplicable
First Place Category 3
by Mallory Greimann
I have no idea why I love to sail. The more I ponder this topic, the less and less of an explanation I am left with to offer. My mind automatically reverts to the poetic cliche that sailing is all about freedom, boundaries, balance, struggle, and thrill: about the feeling of being at the tiller, in charge of preserving the harmony between boat, wind, and water; but, something deeper within me whispers that these things are not the true source of my love. It is true that my fondest memories of sailing are the days when my experience has come closest to fitting this idyllic description, yet I love even the days when my hands are raw and cold and my cuscles cramped. In my opinion, these clishes are just romantic glamorizations, fabricated to fill the void created by the unexplainable. To me, sailing is its own separate world, one that exists only in the abstract and falls away with each parting of boat and boot. In the intermediary time between sails, the only remnant, the only partial memory of the magic is a sense that something sensational was experienced during the last sojourn on the water. A mystical force emanates from the other realm lying at the very core of the sport, and touches me, bestowing upon me the love and the drive to return no matter what. Words cannot be used to describe what is intrinsically the essence of the sport. The best explanation I can provide is that sailing is like falling into a deep, blissful sleep; there is no memory upon waking, only a kind of inexplicable contentment. So if you want to know why I love to sail, then I want to know why you love to dream.
Why I Love Sailing
by Christopher Beckham
My grandfather is an engineer. He loves to build things. In the Ď50ís, he built a Snipe out of mahogany then raced it in the mudy Illinois River. He also built an airplane. He told me that a sailboat is a close relative of an airplane. Both depend on the physics of air flowing across a rigid surface to create lift and movement. But sailing, he said, is not only much more ancient than flying, it is also much more complex. An airplane need only move through wind while a sailboat must move simultaneously through both wind and water.
All the parts of a sailboat are highly interrelated - the shape of the sail, the angle of the rudder, and the tension in the lines - change one, and you change the others. Change any of those things and you change the way the boat moves through wind and water.
During a race, Iím the one who decieds whether to tack onto starboard or port. But out on the water many things are beyond my control. I can try to influence my competitors, but I canít control them. And I have absolutely no control of the interplay between wind and water. Sometimes, when Iíve done all that I possibly can - got a good start, made all the right tactical moves - I still lose. All it takes is for the wind to die on my side of the course. Thereís nothing I can do about it.
My grandfather said there may be no better metaphor for life than racing sailboats. It teaches the importance of patience and persistence. It also teaches that there are many things that are out of your control and that losing is as much a part of life as winning. Itís those lessons that I value most about sailing.