When Anne Hannan called me and asked if I would write a monthly column for WindCheck, I thought it would be fun to write about a variety of things going on around Long Island Sound. When my wife heard about it, she said, “Great. They’ve given you a soapbox to stand on.”

I therefore make the promise that I will do my best not to pontificate. I will, however, offer my personal thoughts on a variety of topics — that’s what an editorial column is all about. All of you readers may not agree with my point of view on everything, so I urge you to write in if you have a differing point of view. Discussion, and even disagreement, are a healthy thing for our sport. Look at what Scuttlebutt has created.

Those were the first two paragraphs I wrote in my very first column way back in April 2004. This is my 95th and final column for WindCheck, as my wife and I prepare to move to Bethesda, MD, where I will be seeking employment in the non-profit world — focusing on children, hospitals, diseases and people with disabilities. As any regular reader of this column knows, these are areas I have a passion for. Now if anyone has a job down there, I can be reached at William.L.Sandberg@gmail.com. How’s that – a thirty thousand-member network.

Over the years I’ve written more than one column on junior sailing, Olympic and Paralympic sailing, disabled sailing and the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY. I hope I haven’t bored you, but these are some of the areas I am most passionate about. We sailors are a lucky breed, and anytime we can spread the good word and grow the sport, we should. I’ve seen firsthand what a positive effect a good sailing program can have on able-bodied kids, people with disabilities and kids in hospitals.

Of course along the way, I’ve also pissed off a few people, as my column has been fortunate enough to have been picked up in Scuttlebutt a fair number of times. This is a good thing, as 1) it shows someone is reading my drivel and 2) the reader may have seen themselves in what I wrote and took offense. Either way, mission accomplished. Other than an unknown sailing photographer from that hotbed of sailboat racing, Southeast Asia, people have been basically kind. And when the photog questioned my credentials in Scuttlebutt, who should come to my rescue but an old friend from my college days in Syracuse I have not laid eyes on in 46 years.

It’s been a delight to work with Anne Hannan, Chris Gill, Chris Szepessy and Kerstin Fairbend over the last 8+ years, They promised me they would not edit me unless I used the F-bomb, and they’ve been true to their word. In fact the only editing at all has been done by Zep, who has only made me look better. They print a great magazine, and I hope you (are you listening, advertisers?) will continue to support them, Make sure that when your sailing establishment receives their monthly issues, they are put out prominently. You’ll be doing the readers a favor.

One last defense. As you all know, our Olympic Sailing Team failed to medal this year for the first time since 1936. Team Leader Dean Brenner has been personally attacked via email and in print, as well as all the athletes, coaches and staff. This is patently unfair. I don’t know a group that has ever worked harder. How many sailors do you know who spent four days working out with the SEALS?

I can’t tell you why they came up short, but it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort. This was as passionate a group as I have ever known in my over 30-year relationship with the team. Each one of them is hurting in their own way, so if you get a chance, let them know you are proud of each and every one of them. They all made sacrifices in their personal lives to represent our country, and even though they failed to medal, they represented us with dignity. They make me proud to be an American sailor.

While we are moving to Bethesda, I will remain a non-resident member of American Yacht Club, and in fact will be a PRO for their Fall Series, so come, but don’t be over early.

Remember the words my good friend and former skipper Bubbles Shattuck used to utter — “Sail fast and look to weather.”

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