Pond Life

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The world of model sailing is as big as the world of sailing itself. Some people get into models for the aesthetic allure of the classics. Some people are born tinkerers; others get in for the competition or to drill on tactics. Others just want the socializing. Competitive, radio-controlled sailing is the mainstay of model sailing. For a few hundred bucks you can buy an off-the-shelf hobby-shop boat and enjoy good one-design fun if you have a local fleet. Step up to not quite a thousand and you can have something very cool. It's possible to spend more, but tinkering spirits and home builders keep costs low whether they're into development classes or schooners. What's up with the game at the leading edge? Vacuum-bagged carbon hulls; canting keels, canting rigs, hydrofoil multihulls—what do you have in mind?

And, there still are outposts where boats go "free-sailing," as it's now called, in the same way that models sailed for ages before a name was needed for it. Before radio controls, they didn't need a special name for free-sailing because that's the only way anybody could sail.

The pictures here were taken at Mission Bay in San Diego, California, which has a pond dedicated to sailing model yachts. Coast to coast, it's happening. One click more will take you to our STORY ABOUT MODEL SAILING.

We also have an online-only story about Swede Johnson's model schooner with a "real helmsman, and more.

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