By: Amy Stapleton
Photo by: Bob Grieser
Yearning to feel—at least for a few days—like a rock-star sailor, one woman heads to J World and gets a feel for adrenaline-fueled learning
Another gust upward of 20 knots pushes the starboard rail of our J/80 into the waters of the Chesapeake again. With a chill rain stinging down and waves splashing, I thank my lucky stars that I decided to invest in waterproof socks and neoprene gloves the day before. A few hundred yards away, a Melges 24 screams upwind with its crew hiking out, even though nobody is racing. Off in the distance, we see our classmates in another J/80 risk a spinnaker set. After a few seconds of pandemonium, the kite puffs out nicely in the strong breeze and the boat begins to plane.
It’s at about that moment that I have the answer to the question I’ve been grappling with all week. What am I doing here? What motivation compels a middle-aged, relatively inexperienced lake sailor like me to spend five days training for serious sailboat racing? The answer, I realize, is that I’m in pursuit of happiness, one of my inalienable American rights. Even if I never see a start at Key West Race Week or get into a tacking duel with the likes of Terry Hutchinson or Anna Tunnicliffe, for one week I can pretend that I’m there. Some people unload their money to drive expensive race cars in a circle, or to get a seat on the Russian Soyuz to rocket them into space. All I need to attain happiness, at least momentarily, is a fall week at J World Performance Sailing School of Annapolis, where I can pretend to be a rock star of sailing.
Click on the above image to read more.