Where I Go..
The first blast of the starting gun pierces the air, and I begin to have that feeling of in my stomach. I know what’s next. No longer do I have to even look at my watch to count down the next five minutes or prepare myself for the next blast from the starter’s pistol. I am surrounded by hundreds of people in rainbow colored vests and jackets, all of us trying to jockey for the best position on the imaginary starting line. I take a minute to listen to what is going on. I hear the luffing of the sails, the pfft, pfft, pfft, as the bottom of the sail is caught by the wind, and hits the mast. Normally a quiet, gentle sound, it has become quite loud, as the sails of 100 boats hit their masts. I hear the gulls overhead and the conversation of crews reviewing their strategy, yelling at others for the right of way; the crackle of the waves as they hit the side of the boats. The noise hits its crescendo, started by the final blast of the starter pistol. Beep, beep, beep. Hundreds of watch alarms go off, signaling the beginning of the race.
We pull in our sails, I leap out onto the rim of the boat and strap myself into my harness, feet planted on the side rail of the boat, I hang, leaning back into the wind, the spray from the waves splashes up onto my face; a film of salt covers my skin. I feel weightless out on the harness as if I’m flying. The racers, now spread across the horizon, look like a rainbow across the sky. There is no more yelling and the luffing of the sails has given way to the calm quiet of the ocean. I’m focused on the tasks at hand during the race such as flying the spinnaker and navigating the racecourse looking for pockets of wind. Stresses of life evaporate for a short time — there are no cell phones, no homework, and a different kind of “to do” list. Myself, along with the 99 other crew members, know our task at hand: look out for boats, look out for puffs in the wind, and most importantly, keep your boat flat for your skipper.
You and your skipper need to work in harmony, in this moment you are one, your weight needs to be one unit as it moves throughout the 13-foot boat and your thoughts need to be synchronized as you make decisions throughout the racecourse. It is not a relationship that is formed over night, but rather over years. This is the person you spend all day of everyday of the summer with, crammed in a small boat. It’s the person that calms your nerves on a big race day with heavy winds and the same person that can keep you entertained and laughing as you bask in the sun when the water is utterly flat and your boat is still. The relationship I have with my skipper is like no other, he is a key aspect in what makes being out on the water my passion, my place and where I find my happiness.
Regardless of the day, the conditions, the race, I am guaranteed this escape. The boat and the ocean are where I return to over and over. It is where I get my strength, where I let loose, where I meditate, where I dream. It doesn’t matter what part of the ocean I am in, it doesn’t matter if there is no wind or if it’s gusting up to 35 knots, when I am out on the water sailing, I feel limitless. My mind is free, my only focus is sailing and that means I am focused on the wind, on the waves, looking at the sky, looking at the ocean. Its picturesque, I have an incredible sense of calm and happiness.