Sailing in Tacoma

May 21, 2007

About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to sail. My family has a long history of water activities, and we’ve even had a few people in the Navy. According to some history stuff I read, my ancestors were some of the best sailors in Ireland. That’s before British occupation. I asked around with people I knew, trying to find out where I could learn. As luck would have it, a couple of people I know are crew on a racing boat, and they invited me to come along. After two races, I’m totally hooked, although I knew that I would be.

Being out on the water is such a joy. You get to feel the swell of the waves, and let the boat carry you along for the ride. Actually, sailing isn’t so much like racing a car as it is riding a roller coaster. There’s no brakes on a sailboat, and that leads to some pretty organized chaos down at the start line. How a race works is all the boats sail out to the general area of the start line, and wait for the official start gun/horn. With 20 or 30 boats waiting in a fairly small area and not able to stop, it’s a miracle that nothing gets destroyed. Once the horn sounds, then everybody starts making their way to the first mark. After that, it’s a matter of who gets the best wind and manages to stay out of traffic. When sailing, sometimes the shortest line is not the best.

Last week, my boat managed to win the race, and we even managed to come in before a one of the boats in the heat before us. They were, however, short-handed so that had a huge effect. Hopefully, we’ll keep up the good finishes and do well in the series. Here’s a nice picture of what it looks like out there, courtesy of the chief photographer of the races.