Sailing: The perfect distraction

Published on September 16th, 2021

by Damian Lord, The Final Beat
Why do we sail? I do wonder about this sometimes.

Every so often, on meeting someone new, or maybe chatting to someone I don’t know very well, the topic of sailing comes up. And when I mention that I sail I am often met with a comment like:

“Oh, sailing. I’d love to try that sometime. It looks so relaxing.”

And I try (I really, really try) to say nothing. To just agree and move on.

But I can’t. I always have to try and explain that my type of sailing doesn’t involve sitting around casually on a yacht with a gin and tonic, wearing some beige chinos and a white shirt with the top three buttons undone, and perhaps a pair of deck shoes (but definitely no socks), making charming conversation with other beautiful people.

(Although, now I think about it, I really should give that kind of sailing a go.)

Instead I feel compelled to explain that my kind of sailing involves getting wet and hiking out hard and racing other dinghies, mostly in the freezing cold.

And when I think about it afterwards I do wonder why I’d rather portray an image of myself as a strange man thrashing around in a small dinghy, racing against other strange men and women, frequently in the driving rain, rather than a successful chap living the high life on a yacht.

It’s baffling really.

Enjoying the great outdoors?
Of course, having briefly described the kind of sailing that I do, I sometimes get asked why I would do it.

I mean, what possible appeal could my type of sailing have?

Frequently I will say something about spending time outdoors in the elements, and taking pleasure in using them to sail a boat. It is something we often hear sailors talk about. And it is true, to a degree. There is something hugely satisfying in being out in nature – we’re lucky that our race tracks are frequently found in some of the most beautiful places in the world.

But, if I’m honest with myself, it isn’t the reason I sail. It is a huge bonus, but it definitely isn’t the main reason I sail. – Full report

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