Becoming the Complete Sailor

Published on April 24th, 2018

Sailing has many forms, and until you experience them all, you don’t recognize how they each contributes to our knowledge and confidence whenever we leave the dock. Marc Herrmann makes the argument that we need to embrace all forms to be skilled in our chosen preference.


I have been very fortunate to be introduced to sailing over 40 years ago by my cruising-loving parents. Initially as a kid, I never much thought about the sailing aspect of boating until I experienced it first-hand. Not only was it an eye opener but I started to see, experience, and enjoy the many pleasures it brings to oneself.

For me the big benefit to being introduced to sailing through cruising was the ability to learn “all” aspects of boating. Sail handling, navigation, seamanship, anchoring, docking shorthanded, engine maintenance and the list goes on and on.

A few years later I got into racing, starting in small boats (Sabot, Lasers, Fireballs) and then moving into bigger keel boats. The racing taught me close quarters maneuvering, tactics, using tide/current to one’s advantage and most importantly, when on a larger boat with more than one crew, how to work in a team environment where each and every team member has a designated function and we work to optimize the team’s execution on the water.

Reflecting on my cruising and racing years, each one has brought me nothing but positive aspects to become a better sailor/boater. I firmly believe both, cruising and racing, provide each sailor with a good foundation and appreciation to become a well-rounded sailor/boater.

Picking sailors off the dock for the Wednesday night beer can races, it was apparent that some individuals have limited experience and when it comes to keelboat racing, are used to performing limited functions. It is unfortunate they do not have an overall understanding of boats, ones surroundings, and that of other boats.

I fully understand that many of these “pick-up” sailors have limited opportunities to get out on the water. However, advocating for anyone wanting to get into sailing/boating, start in both, cruising and racing since they provide you with a wide aspect of what boating is all about.

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