Fair Winds, Good Doctor

Published on December 18th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
For three years I submitted my column to Sailing World editor Dave Reed, feeling equal parts exultant and exhausted. A fair amount of thought and Cabernet went into each piece, and I was eager to move on. But that rarely happened as Reed was just getting started, and as he explains in this report, I have a pediatrician to thank:

Dr. Stuart H. Walker

As a green 21-year-old junior editor at Sailing World in 1995, my boss put me in charge of editing Dr. Stuart H. Walker’s monthly column. It arrived by facsimile, always single-spaced, Courier font and the title underlined in the upper left corner. These were days before email and internet, so I’d have to retype it, line by line, careful not to omit a single word.

I was warned: The doctor is precise, and he doesn’t like to be edited. But those who know Walker’s writings through his dozen books, hundreds of columns and lectures will understand when I admit that after transposing each month’s column, my brain would hurt. I’d reread long, wordy passages multiple times before making sense of it.

To simplify the experience for myself, I would deconstruct sentences and whole paragraphs, attempting to break them into comprehendible nuggets. I’d send the manuscript back, and we’d battle professionally over my heavy-handed editing. But, alas, we’d settle somewhere in the middle, and he would always return his final copy with a kind handwritten note at the top.

As laborious as editing his columns was at times, this immersive experience into Walker’s writings taught me all I could ever retain about tactics, current, lake winds and the deep, cerebral part of the game. I did eventually learn two things over more than a decade of editing his masterpieces. There is a clear and powerful lesson in every column. And Dr. Walker is always right. – Full report

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