Young at heart, on the water and off
Published on September 25th, 2023
Sailing competition offers a test of ability, but it also can distract us from what is good in the sport. Matt Burridge (St. Louis, MO) provides some wisdom on this topic:
I’ve heard that time is the only resource we can’t get more of. I’m not 30 years old anymore and have started investing my time, not spending it on things I have a passion for. Although racing results clearly matter, our sport is more than results reported in a box score type of short hand. I now see it is about people and their passion for sailing.
A longtime friend and skipper in our 1988 470 Olympic campaign and I returned recently to the 470 Class due to our love of the boat. It is a great racing boat, simple to sail, but nearly impossible to master as it always teaches you something every time you sail one.
Another friend in the 470 Class once named his boat TOKFOGO, an acronym for “To Keep From Getting Old”. We recently raced against him and his daughter, he’s 77, so it is working for them. My long-time teammate is 72 and sails with his wife, while I’m 63 and sail with my son.
Although it is an Olympic boat renounced for the required athleticism, for us it is the passion that keeps us young enough to enjoy this boat.
On our road trip to Miami and back to buy a 470, I met Magnus Liljedahl (a timeless guy despite demographic facts) who assisted our purchase whist the Olympian owner was away competing, training and fund raising with her campaign partner.
Magnus, an Olympic Gold medalist in the Star Boat, was quite a visual standing on the top step of the US Sailing Center facility among two seasoned smallish dinghy guys, necks craned upward explaining how they “washed up here” to get a 470 and needed his help.
Magnus admitted later that he thought we were buying the boat for kids or grandkids; not ourselves. Yes, we are in Rip Van Winkle territory but we have passion for the 470 and it keeps us young.
By the way, Magnus does wonderful work through his non-profit, Team Paradise, teaching sailing at all levels for persons with disabilities, under-served communities, and US veterans in the Miami community. Seeing his passion emphasized the point.
It’s the passion and friendships that keep us young at heart on the water and off. Invest your time to re-connect with a teammate, mentor youth sailing, or revisit a type of boat from your past; it may keep you young or at least feeling that way.