Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A New World

So I thought I knew how to sail.

Until today, that is.

Earlier this morning, looking down at the equipment laid out in front of us on the lawn of New Bedford Yacht Club, nothing seemed particularly alien or intimidating. Plenty was familiar. There was a mast, a sail, battens, outhaul, downhaul, boom... and even a rudder and centerboard. This thing is basically a sailboat. I know sailboats, right?


Pushing off from the dock, everything seemed to be going fine. Our excellent instructor, Ned Crossley, had guided us through the intricacies of rigging and the basic controls. I was moving in a reasonably straight line, and steadily gaining speed. Nothing to it. Simple. Then I started running out of harbor. A sand bank loomed ahead. No big deal, lets just throw in a tack.... 

Wait... how the heck do I do that? Maybe if I just ease my foot around the mast...

Splash. Down goes the supposedly experienced sailor. 

And thus began my windsurfing career. 

It's not every sport that allows you to experience it in a whole new way 15 years into participating. Sailing offers that via windsurfing, and through many, many other disciplines. This is not only a sport you can enjoy for life, but one that offers endless ways of keeping your time on the water fresh and interesting.

Standing on that windsurfer today, I felt a lot like I did as an eight-year-old sitting in my first Optimist dinghy. It was back to taking baby steps. The thing is, there was little to no frustration involved. It was just plain fun. Beyond fun. Eye-opening. "Your life will never be the same," said Ned, our friendly and formidable retired West Point drill instructor.

I think he's going to be proven right.


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