By Isabella Brady

The mist of water on your face; the heat of the sun caressing your shoulder blades; the reassuring tug of the jib sheet in your hand; the stiff shiver of the sails above you, a foreboding roll like thunder; the hypnotic click-click-click as you pull the main sheet in; the resistance of the water as you guide the tiller—there are innumerable reasons why I love sailing. 

I started sailing when I was eight, and I have looked forward to the precious moments on the water ever since. It may not be the most approachable hobby, but seriously, don’t judge me until you try it. My grandfather and his father went sailing ever since he was young, and raced in various competitions on the east coast, so I guess it kind of runs in the family. The summer after my grandfather died, I decided to see what the big deal was, so my parents enrolled me in a week-long course. I loved it—so much they enrolled me in another. And another. Every summer following, the highlight was going up to Lake Tahoe and getting to sail by myself. We don’t own a sailboat anymore (my grandfather’s), but between advanced sailing courses and rentals (both surprisingly very affordable (depending on location)) I have had some great experiences out on the lake. 

Thus, while high school students probably won’t be able to pursue this type of hobby on a daily basis, I implore you, don’t dismiss it altogether! Sailing helps you learn more about yourself, make great friends, discover a plethora of new skills, and, if you know what you’re doing, you look pretty cool doing it. For the very reason that sailing has many parts functioning in an incredible harmony, I believe this makes it among the most fulfilling pastimes. You choose to partner with the elements,the wind, water; and propel yourself forward. Below are a few tips for anyone looking to pursue sailing as a hobby:

  1. Start small: 

You don’t need a 30 foot sailing yacht to have some fun! I started on Picos, and while they are small and simple, they are perfect for beginners. Plus, you can sail one by yourself! Personally, I prefer lasers, or racing sailboats, as I typically only go by myself or with a couple of friends. Of this vast category, I like RS Ventures and FJ’s the best. If you’re looking for a smaller boat, I recommend the F-J, however, if you would like to go out on the water to hang out with friends, the RS Venture would probably be a better choice as it is larger.

  1. Beware of the boom:

Thankfully, this is less of an issue on larger sailboats, but, if you aren’t looking out for it you might discover its namesake: the boom it reverberates when it cracks you over the head. For context, the boom is the metal pole running parallel to the base of the mainsail, so please be careful (especially when tacking or jibing). Powered by the wind, a blow to the head will be smarting for days following the assault.

  1. Keep going:

Unpopular opinion: capsizing is fun! Yet another reason not to purchase a fancy sailboat, when you capsize, don’t be deterred. Enjoy a refreshing swim, and push on the centerboard (or keel, or daggerboard, depending on your vessel) to right it again. When you are truly skilled, stand on the edge of the boat as it is capsizing and then step down onto the centerboard to splashlessly right your boat again.

  1. My favorite part!

The best sailboats have this selling quality: hiking straps. These allow a restraint to tuck one’s feet under, so they can put their body over the edge, leaning out of the sailboat. My favorite part about sailing is when you pick up speed, and the boat leans to the side as the bottom of the boat is lifted from the surface of the water. On this occasion, at top speed, on the levitating edge of your boat, use the hiking strap, guide the boat as you careen through the water, and hike (lean) out! If you crave the feeling of flying, this precarious balance between full speed and capsizing is for you.