I came across my 8th grade graduation speech and it pretty well sums up why I love the water and sailing; It’s entitled, “Living Simply is Complicated.” (June 2010)
“I love to sail. I love the water, the sun, the wind, the speed, the surfing of a wave on my sailboat. I love the excitement of 100 boats on a starting line waiting for the gun to go off. I love trying to figure out a strategy to get around that first mark in the fastest. I love trying to tune my boat to go as fast as possible. I love the mental game of tactics of a sailboat race.
When I was about six, I started sailing on Lake Casitas in a Cal20 sailboat with my brother and my dad. It seemed like a huge adventure. We sailed around that little island in the center and felt lost to the world.
When I was 8, I started sailing a little 8’ one-man sailboat in the harbor. Soon I was out racing in regattas and looking for more challenges.
After sailing in the local regattas, I attended my first national regatta in Annapolis when I was 12. I went for the experience and totally unexpectedly, I qualified for the United States National Team and went to Belgium to represent the US in an international regatta. Within months I went from the safety of my little harbor to sailing in 10’ swells and 30 knots of wind in the frigid waters of the North Sea in a 8’ sailboat.
I’ve since joined a sailing team called Team Westside. It’s made up of five sailors from the West Coast. We travel together and train with a coach named Manny Resano from Argentina.
This year alone:
I’ve logged 44,526 air miles, I’ve flown almost twice the distance around the world.
I’ve sailed in Puerto Rico, St Thomas Virgin Islands, Florida, Texas, and even Milwaukee
I’ve missed 32 days of school to attend regattas and clinics
I’ve gone through three sets of sails, countless bottles of sunscreen and hundreds of almond butter and jelly sandwiches
To be wet, cold and uncomfortable,
To stay focused,
To sail the race course and compete against myself instead of racing other boats,
To travel lightly,
To look people in the eyes and shake their hands when I meet them,
I’ve learned to believe in lucky hats
I’ve learned which airlines won’t charge for oversized bags.
I have a long checklist of all the stuff I need to bring, everything from an official rule book to sail ties to a tool kit. I travel with 2 8’ sails.
I’ve learned that being strong and in shape helps my mental clarity after 4 days of competing on the water.
I’ve learned that visualizing is almost as good as actually practicing.
I’ve learned to set goals and what it feels like to attain them and miss them
I usually bring a backpack full of schoolwork, but don’t seem to get around to much of that.
This Saturday, I’m boarding a plane to St Thomas. When I return a week later I’m home for 2 days and then heading to Ontario Canada to compete in the North American Championships. There will be 204 sailors from 22 countries. The North American’s will be my last regatta in an Optimist sailboat. After that I have to figure out a new direction for my sailing. In certain terms it’s graduation.
While my sailing life has become a bit more complicated than anticipated, it began and remains the simple pleasure of sailing a boat on the water in the sunshine.
As Rat said to Mole in The Wind in the Willows:
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing bout in boats”