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Calling In Sick

SW's editor gets a refreshing dip in Narragansett Bay during his "wellness" day.

October 5, 2010
Sailing World

Dave Reed sailing

Walter Cooper

When I first saw LaserPerformance’s “Sick Day” advertising photo sequence in the pages of this magazine, something about it instantly struck me. The images were inspiring: a guy out on his Laser on a breezy day, surfing down a breaking wave, and then capsizing with kooky flair, laughing the entire time.

I stared at that advertisement for a while, and as I did so, I started to think about how I’d been negligent with my sailing. I’d logged my fair share of regattas and races over the past few years, but I couldn’t remember the last time I rigged up on a windy day with the sole intention of tearing around for the fun of it. I used to do it all the time as a kid; what was stopping me now? A shortage of free time? A desire to preserve my sail or my equipment for the next race? Maybe I’d just gotten wimpy.

The advertisement prompted me to take action, and I borrowed (with permission) the campaign message to devise Sailing World‘s first official Sick Day. I had visions of “calling in” and then pulling off something radical: getting myself a ride on the most adrenaline-inducing craft I could find. If no free rides came to fruition, I’d take out my Laser when the first red-flags day came along.

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But I decided I would not do this alone. We spread the Sick Day word to our readers via all the viral tools: our website, our e-newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, you name it. We called for a united Sick Day, and the response was excellent.

One respondent, however, told us our Sick Day initiative was a bad idea. “How socially irresponsible is this bright idea?” he wrote. “Sick days are supposed to be for when you are sick . . . not an excuse to ‘F’ the system. The world’s going to [expletive] and this kinda of crap is not helping.”

I respectfully disagree. This is precisely why a sailing sick day is a good idea. I’ve always been a believer that one’s physical health is explicitly tied to one’s mental health: thus, a happier employee is a more productive employee.

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We selected August 25 as our official Sick Day, and when it came, weather conditions in Rhode Island materialized just as I’d imagined: a rare summer nor’easter. Perfect.

I logged my personal day request on the corporate intranet with intentions of sailing my Laser, but our editorial intern Meredith Powlison offered a better idea: borrow a Club 420 and pull out our trapeze harnesses.

I hadn’t sailed a C420 in two decades, never mind trapezed off one, but as we rigged, the wind whistling through the boatpark, I was giddy with excitement. I thought about how, as a kid, I might be intimidated by so much breeze, but not so today.

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“Alright, let’s do this!” I declared as we sheeted in and blasted away from the launch ramp. Once clear of the harbor, Meredith hooked in, and we planed across the bay, blinded by spray, blissfully tight reaching through steep waves to a destination unknown. We sailed for hours, setting the spinnaker, trading places at the helm, capsizing, and carrying on as if we were kids. It was the most fun I’d had all summer.

Truth be told, I did go into work later that afternoon to catch up on e-mails and deadlines. I sat down at my desk, with salt caked in the crevices of my eyes, and water in my ears. I felt wholly rejuvenated, as if I’d accomplished something special. But all I’d done was go sailing.

See the video evidence of Dave’s Sick Day here

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