It’s now 2017. At this time of year, we look back at what we accomplished (or perhaps deferred) during the previous year, as well as set goals and prepare for what lies ahead. Looking back is easy. And it’s interesting to see different peoples’ takes on what 2016 brought – or took – as was the case in many instances. Social media and all of the colorful and dramatic flair that accompanies it depicted last year as worse than, say, 1350 and the height of the black plague. While we did not suffer a great pestilence, we certainly did lose many amazing musicians, actors and other notable figures. I’m sure we can all agree that last year’s political climate was not something we will look back on with warm fondness either, nor was our world a peaceful place.

I used to think social media was a form of escape. Now I think about how best to escape social media. In looking back on that aspect of 2016, I can say that I considered deleting all of my accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and everywhere else. The mudslinging and negativity was over the top and a major drag. But, as usual, along came sailing to fix my problem; thank goodness for my sailing feeds. Just when I was ready to pack it in, hit delete, unplug, and effectively whisk myself back to 1980 BC (before computer), I was reminded that there were lots of other great things going on during 2016 that had nothing to do with politics, panic, pernicious personalities or pandemics!

No matter how depressing or annoying my news feed was on Facebook, or elsewhere, I could always count on a positive post about sailing. Arguably, last year may have been the most positive year for our sport in the 15 we’ve been putting out this magazine. I doubt you’ll find an article in WindCheck from 2016 that doesn’t make you feel good, or give you hope that our kids’ future in the sport is bright. As we chose our Best Images of 2016 for the spread on pages 54 & 55, I noticed that our articles trended toward three topics: sailing accessibility, the pursuit of speed, and quality time with family. In many cases, facets of all three combined.

In the sailing accessibility arena, we saw lots of progress with organizations old and new provide access to the water for many different demographics. From getting veterans on the water to the growth of diverse community programs to enhancing racing and offshore skills, we chronicled an immense amount of excellent work in this aspect of our sport. Time on the water is precious and healing for some, a gateway to learning and fun for others, and holds the possibility for greatness, too. It’s all positive.

There’s no denying that our sport is getting faster and faster. Just look at the designs of some new cruising boats and it’s easy to see that much of what is learned in the realm of top level racing trickles down to allow sailors to get from point A to point B more quickly, efficiently and safely. The advent of foiling is in the distant past, but its adaptation to traditional craft, as well as the number of events that were launched or enhanced by foiling craft grew by leaps and bounds in 2016. Not much time for political bellyaching while you’re going thirty, is there? Heck, our Contributing Editor Coop even managed to grab a WindCheck cover while foiling last year.

And perhaps most near and dear for me was witnessing families spending quality time together through sailing. In 2016 we followed families cruising around the world and caught up with others at racing events (junior dinghy regattas and international keelboat regattas alike). For me, I was able to get my youngest sailing for the first time. Not once during that sail – or any other I had – did I concern myself with the digital world. I love to see those glowing screens stowed safely below while the family enjoys time on the water together.

What 2017 will bring, I hope will be much of the same (the sailing stuff…forget all the rest.) Now, if we could just get Keith Richards and Betty White into sailing!

See you on the water.

Chris Gill