Looking Back and Ahead

This is the time of year when most reflect on the year past and express hope for the year to come. Why should I be any different?

Twenty-Eleven was a very good year from a sailing standpoint. Recently released data shows that US SAILING is in good shape financially and membership numbers are up. Make it a new year’s resolution to join if you already haven’t. For those who say, ‘What does it do for me?’ I ask a number of questions. Do you race? Does your racing include a race committee? Do you have kids in any sort of junior program? Do they sail in National Championships? Do you drive a powerboat? Do you sail offshore? If you answered yes to any one of them, you should join, because US SAILING is actively involve in all of them – and much more. The US SAILING team of Gary Jobson, President, and his devoted Board of Directors; and Jack Gierhart, Executive Director, and his talented staff are doing a great job and deserve our support.

The vast majority of the US Olympic Sailing Team has been chosen (Women’s Match Race will be complete in May), and we should be justifiably proud of each and every athlete. That they are all good sailors is a given, but they are also terrific individuals and will represent the US with honor no matter where they finish. The WindCheck reading area is also well represented, with Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, NY; Women’s 470), Eric Storck (Huntington, NY; 49er, Trevor Moore (LISOT coach; 49er) and miracle man Rob Crane (Darien, CT; Laser). I call Rob the miracle man, because he came from 39 points down and qualified with finishes of 1 and 2 in the last two races in Perth in a fleet of 147 sailors. Anyone say 1951 NY Baseball Giants?

To prove that international racing is still alive and well, and doesn’t need the pros and whining billionaires, the New York YC completed their second Invitational Cup, sailed in identical Swan 42s (tuned equally with the same sails). Canadian Terry McLaughlin and his crew from Royal Canadian YC defeated 21 other teams to win by 20 points, a virtual horizon job. This was sailing at its best – each crew member had to be a member of the challenging club, great breeze, the beauty of Newport as the backdrop, excellent race management and cocktails under the tent each night with war stories being shared by all as good friends – both new and old. Now tell me, as a sailor, would you prefer to compete in this or the circus the America’s Cup has become?

What will 2012 bring? Well, hopefully big changes in Washington on both sides of the aisle, but that is another story.

The US Paralympic Sailing Team will be chosen in January in Miami. As anyone who is a regular reader of this column knows, this group holds a very special place in my heart. Each of the three classes has top contenders who could go on and medal in Weymouth in 2012. Rick Doerr and Paul Callahan and their crews continue to go head to head in the Sonars. Jen French and J.P. Creignou have come out of the pack to challenge Scott Whitman and Julia Dorsett in the SKUD 18. John Ruf, a 2008 Paralympian, can feel Mark LeBlanc breathing down his neck in the 2.4 metre class. As with our Olympians, we can’t lose. Whoever makes it to Weymouth will make us proud to be Americans.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that God helps those who help themselves. What can we each do for the sport of sailing in 2012 to make it better? As stated earlier, join US SAILING. More importantly, get involved. Teach a child or good friend to sail. Get them to crew for you in local races. Find people at local rehab facilities and introduce them to a sport that will literally change their lives forever. Serve on a race committee. It doesn’t require a brain surgeon (as we point out at each year’s Moosehead Luncheon), just the desire to help. Take your family out for a day cruise and just enjoy each other’s company. Those of us who truly love the sport of sailing consider ourselves blessed. There is nothing quite like it. Why not share it with others?

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012.

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