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Highfield Boats - Sailing - LEADERBOARD

Wishing that life imitated sailing - Sail-World.com USA Newsletter

30/06/2020


Wishing that life imitated sailing

Highfield Boats - Sailing - LEADERBOARD

Cyclops Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Racecourse action at the 2020 Quaranteam Regatta - photo © Francis George/Oackcliff Sailing


Dear Recipient Name

Summer may have officially started in the USA, but an ill wind - known as the coronavirus - continues to blow across the country, with alarmingly high new-case counts emerging daily from many states. Most recently Florida, Texas and Arizona have been hardest hit, but plenty of other states, including my home state of Washington, are on the uptick.

As someone who has lived in the American West for a large percentage of my adult life, I'm no stranger to wildfires and the fact that a strong wind can quickly shift battle lines as burning embers rise and fall. Sadly, the same is true for the coronavirus, as even states such as New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, which are seeing their daily new-case counts dropping, are at the mercy of neighboring states as life and commerce slowly come back to (still-restricted) life following this spring's recent lockdowns.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that sailors and the sailing community are proving that racing can still safely take place amidst this scary backdrop, albeit in sometimes reimagined and likely more localized forms.

Starting with the shortest waterlines and working upwards, Laser and RS Aero sailors, as well as kiters and windsurfers, have little to fear when they head out alone for an afternoon or evening sail. Provided there's breeze and that the rest of the fleet takes basic precautions such as wearing facemasks and practicing social distancing ashore, there's also little worry about hosting local races. Plenty of single-handers across the USA are already doing just that, even as bars and other businesses are being ordered to close as transmission rates spike.

 
Marskeel 2019 600x500   FFI - Try a fifteen - 2020 600x500
 

Racecourse action at the 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series - photo © Image courtesy of the 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series
Racecourse action at the 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series - photo © Image courtesy of the 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series

The same is true for two-person classes. Take, for example, the 2020 Lake Max Vanguard 15 Series, which unfurled on the waters of Ohio's Lake Maxinkuckee in late May and early June. The event wisely required social distancing onshore, and it employed MarkSetBots and virtual skipper's meetings, rather than mark boats and tightly packed pre-race meetings.

Given that sailing is a sport that's closely governed by rules and protocols, some of the most heartening and confidence-inspiring work that I've recently seen towards ensuring a 2020 sailing season comes from the good folks at Oakcliff Sailing, in Oyster Bay, New York. Not only did Oakcliff successfully host their Quaranteam Regatta in early June, but Oakcliff's leadership also published a comprehensive protocol (available here: www.oakcliffsailing.org/about-oakcliff/where-to-stay) that other events can adopt to enable sailing while keeping sailors safe.

 
Barton Marine 2019 600x500   Melges IC37 2019 MPU
 

Apres sailing at Oakcliff's 2020 Quaranteam Regatta - photo © Francis George/Oakcliff Sailing
Apres sailing at Oakcliff's 2020 Quaranteam Regatta - photo © Francis George/Oakcliff Sailing

The Salish 200 unfurled this past weekend on the Salish Sea (read: the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound) and involved shorthanded crews racing aboard keelboats. Unlike most more formal, yacht club-based regattas, this one was organized by Jason Andrews and Shawn Dougherty, co-skippers of the well-sailed Seattle-based J/125 Hamachi, and relied heavily on the honor system. Teams could sail with up to five crewmembers (total), and they had their choice of three courses, ranging from 100 to 200 nautical mile outings. Here, the emphasis was on adventure sailing rather than cut-throat competition, and it gave participants a chance to sail at night and around some of the region's prettiest islands and bodies of water.

I'd be straight-up lying if I said that I didn't spend my weekend jealous of the sailors who got to participate in the Salish 200.

 
Selden CX & GX Furling Systems 600x500   Zhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom MPU
 

Hamachi sailing in light airs on Puget Sound - photo © Image courtesy of Hamachi/Jan Anderson
Hamachi sailing in light airs on Puget Sound - photo © Image courtesy of Hamachi/Jan Anderson

Likewise, the 2020 Lake Michigan Doublehanded Championship (June 11), is another great example of sailors getting out on the water in a responsible and socially distanced way that also delivered a great shorthanded adventure for all participants.

While there are undoubtedly many other great examples of sailors responsibly and safely finding ways to engage the sport that we all love best, the simple fact remains that the entire USA would be in far better shape if all citizens engaged in the kind of responsible approach towards reopening society that I've seen exemplified by the sailing community. Yes, masks suck, but if they dramatically reduce transmission rates, then they need to be worn. Likewise, social distancing also sucks, but if it's a key to resuming life as we know and love it, then it should be mandatory. End of story.

Sadly, I've had a few land-based experiences as of late that offer a glimpse into why the coronavirus' transmission rates are re-spiking in the USA. These range from dodging mask-less patrons in the grocery store to scrambling a dozen feet off-trail in the mountains to avoid mask-less hikers who somehow think that they are immune to this nasty virus. And that's to say nothing of house parties, packed beaches and over-crowded establishments, all of which I've been carefully avoiding like, well, the plague.

 
Race Yachts 2020 600x500 v3   Allen 2020 - A.597 - 600x500
 

2019 Annual Miami Sailing Week - Protest Committee - photo © Cory Silken
2019 Annual Miami Sailing Week - Protest Committee - photo © Cory Silken

While I doubt we'll be seeing mask-less grocery-store patrons performing penalty turns in the aisles with their grocery carriages anytime soon, I do fear that, unless corrective actions are taken quickly and embraced widely, we could be looking at a return to the latchkey days of April, when the only surfing to be done involved Netflix. Moreover, I also fear that the significant sacrifice and economic pain we all endured this spring - not to mention the (ballpark) 125,000 lost American lives (and counting, rather quickly) - will be for naught unless corrective actions are widely embraced.

It's tempting to wish that life imitated sailing, but during the last six months I find myself wishing that everyone understood and embraced the connection between responsible behavior and the rewards of getting to participate in favorite activities as much as sailors clearly do. But rather than chide the less responsible amongst our ranks, it's far better to celebrate the successes - however small-scale they may be - and to hold these up as examples for others to embrace.

 
Highfield Boats - Sailing - MPU   Vaikobi 2019AUG - MPU 1
 

Sail-World's publisher, Mark Jardine, out for a blast on his Frankenlaser - photo © Mark Jardine
Sail-World's publisher, Mark Jardine, out for a blast on his Frankenlaser - photo © Mark Jardine

Get this right and we can all have a good time; blow it, and the ill winds that we are all feeling will become a truly tragic Category 5 hurricane.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

 
RS Sailing 2020 - Summer Offer - MPU   Henri-Lloyd 2020 MPU
 


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North Sails 2019 - Helix Top-Down Furling 600x500   Gul 2020 Tri-Laminate Spraytop MPU
 
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PredictWind.com 250 - 2014   C-Tech Emirates TNZ 250
 
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Mackay 250   Hyde Sails 2017 March 300x250
 
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