An In-Depth Analysis On The 2017 Sailing Season

Christopher Murray '18, Contributing Writer

When asked about the sport of sailing, I would make a safe bet that no one has ever heard of it being a serious sport or if they have they only know it from the Olympic level. In reality, the sport of sailing is a lifestyle for many High-school and College students. For the state of Maryland, almost every coastal town has its own yacht club and sailing team. For students who sail from Cecil County, like myself, I have worked very heard through to have a great season like the 2017 Sailing Season.

To help understand my sailing experience, I must break down what the sport of sailing is. For High-school and college sailors, the boat known as an F-J is the a familiar boat to sail in. The F-J and C420 boats consists of two sails a rudder and is captained by two people. There is no hull with couches or a place to nap, it is all open. The boat itself is only 4.2 meters (12.6 feet) long and can easily tip. The goal is to make it around the course and back through the finish line before any other boats. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. For instance you cannot sail about directly into the wind, this will cause the sails to not fill with wind. The race committee, however, will always put a mark directly into the wind from the start line. This requires sailors to make a tight zig-zag motion up the water to reach the mark. Also there are books full of rules for sailing. These include who has right of way in various situations and which direction you must round a mark. You can use these rules, strategically, to your advantage. For instance when a boat is on the opposite tack (direction of course) you can either duck them or force them to duck you due to right of way. The rules can even become so complicated that they have post-race protest committees.

I have been sailing for many, many years and I have been racing sailboats for almost as long. This spring season, however, has easily been my most successful year and a great year from my team. Last two seasons, I would consider myself extremely lucky to place 1st during a regatta (sailing meet). Now I have been placing first for almost every race in a full regatta. A regatta consists of 6-8 individual races! I have done this well in regattas from North East, MD all the way to Annapolis and Baltimore. My team as well has done extremely well also in places like Kent Island and Rock Hall. We are not sure where all the phenomenal performances are coming from. We practice less than other clubs. We don’t use as expensive gear as other clubs. I feel as though it is the sense of community that we experience every time we meet. We talk to each other outside of practice and we are very involved in each other’s personal lives. Most of us have known each other since we were very young. I think that this makes us better communicators on the water and we can almost know what the other person in our boat is thinking. We move quickly and in sync which can be necessary for days in which every little move could make or break a race.

When a race starts the race committee blows the whistle three long times. This indicates a 3 minute warning until the start of the race. By 10 seconds, people crowd the start line. It can be very difficult to sail a boat in one spot while trying to avoid hitting the 8-10 boats cramming into a start line only big enough for 5 boats. You cannot be over the line early or you have to circle back around and usually end up losing 4-5 spots. By the end of the race the same boats can be can be right next to you. Many people do not see sailing as an athletic sport. This could not be farther from the truth. When you have wind speeds around 15-20 mph, it can be very hard to keep a small, light boat flat on the water. This action is called hiking and it can take extreme amounts of abdominal strength. The amount of strength and strategy that goes into sailing can really wear out a group of students but the North East River Yacht Club sailors have been able to overcome this time after time, allowing us to secure many victories in the 2017 Spring Season.