ADVICE: New Sailing Devotee Seeking Next Step

Published on September 11th, 2014

DEAR CURMUDGEON: I live in NYC and have caught the sailing bug in my mid 30s after growing up in St Petersburg, FL but somehow shockingly never stepped foot on a sailboat until my late 20s. In any case, I’ve bought myself a Sunfish and I’ve been crewing in JY15 races for the past two years in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

I’ve found your newsletter an excellent resource for learning more about the sport and it’s great to see such an active, diverse, and passionate community involved. But I’m still quite confused as to how that community organizes itself. I’m constantly reading about national and regional regattas taking place in a multitude of one design classes around the country and the world. How are people getting these boats around?

Are people really hitching up their boats to trailers and driving them for days to get to these far off events? How do you get 79 boats together for a regatta? At the east end of Long Island, there is some low key JY15 and a bit of Laser and Sunfish racing, but never more than 10-15 boats it seems. I’d love to get more involved and race on some of these amazing looking boats, but I don’t see the next step. Maybe I just live in the wrong part of the country. – NEWBIE IN NEW YORK

DEAR NEWBIE: When it comes to racing, it is easiest to get involved in the active fleets in your immediate area. If your choice is a one design class, it is likely to have a class association which organizes and promotes a calendar of events. Some of the regional events may only require a few hours of driving. The classes with large membership often host midwinter events in Florida, and national championships in regions where the class has members.

These traveling events are as much a competition as a convention for the more active people in the class. They offer a great opportunity to meet people and exchange ideas. But yes, these events require boat transport, and an East-West crossing of the USA is over 40 hours of driving. The travel is eased when smaller one design trailers are modified to stack several boats. Chartering a boat from a local class member might also be an option.

For the classes you mentioned, the JY15 likely won’t satisfy your thirst for bigger events, but the Laser and Sunfish certainly would. Take a look at the class websites and find what the event calendars and class contacts can offer. Sail on! – CURMUDGEON

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