Racing: Facing the freak out

Published on December 8th, 2023

by Andrea Mann, SAIL Magazine
“Pole up!” our skipper shouted from the foredeck as the helmsman eased off the main. We had just rounded the windward mark, and another crewmember and I scrambled for our positions at the spinnaker sheets and launched the chute from the bag. What a beautiful sight.

It was a brisk and sunny Saturday afternoon with 10-knot winds gusting to 18, and this was the last of our three races for the day. As we flew down the lake, I could hardly believe how far I’d come. If this had been two short years ago, panic would have overwhelmed me when we heeled at 25 degrees in the gusts. A knockdown years ago had ruined my enthusiasm for sailing.

I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Summers meant water sports, including gliding around on a friend’s little Sunfish. The prevailing winds were reliable, and I loved watching the bigger boats with full sails heel and right as they made their way through the waves. I dreamed of one day owning one. – Full report

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