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A New Year of Sailing

The past 12 months have been tragic, troubling and downright strange. If there’s been a silver lining to the situation, though, it’s been the way so many sailors have still found a way to take to the water—that and the way it appears countless newbies have decided to take up sailing as well. And, no, I’m not just saying that because it’s been good for the boatbuilding industry (though it’s always good to see the business side of sailing succeed). The reason I find the phenomenon of all the sailing that’s been going on so satisfying is it speaks to what’s best in humanity. In late 2020, as the pandemic continued to rage essentially unchecked, I wrote on this same page that “so long as human beings continue sailing there’s hope, and so long as there’s hope people will continue sailing.” I now believe that more than ever.

Faced with an unspeakable tragedy—not to mention the confusion and uncertainty of a disease initially shrouded in mystery—it would have been both reasonable and perfectly understandable if we’d all just sat at home and waited for things to blow over. But while some undoubtedly did, plenty didn’t, as Laurie Fullerton so ably reports in her story Return to Racing on page 40. Not only that, but these same sailors (and hopefully more than a few of those newbies) are clearly also ready and raring to start racing again now that vaccines are getting into arms and the restrictions of the past year are (hopefully) becoming a thing of the past.

Personally, I’d like to give a shout out to the Boston Sailing Center (bostonsailingcenter.com), a local sailing center of the kind covered in this month’s article by SAIL managing editor, Lydia Mullan, on community boating and the vital role these organizations play in making sailing accessible to all. As I’ve mentioned before, with sailing opportunities shutting down everywhere else, BSC and its magnificent fleet of well-worn Solings made it possible for me to explore Boston Harbor as never before. This would have been impossible without the hard of work of the BSC staff—not just maintaining the boats as per usual, but wiping boats down after each use with disinfectant and ensuring everybody on the docks and launches followed the necessary safety protocols. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Now here we are on the cusp of another summer and another sailing season (at least up here in New England). I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get back out on the water and have been mulling various sailing plans and goals all winter. As is so often the case, many of these plans remain up in the air. But then again, as far as I’m concerned, that’s all part of the fun. Joni Mitchell famously observed, “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone,” and that has never been more true than in the wake of 2020.

Best of luck, stay safe, be sure and get your vaccinations, and may everybody have the best sailing season ever! 

May 2021

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