Sailing World October 2012 cover
At this very moment, someone is gliding across the water, suspended by a trapeze wire of a beach cat, quickly glancing over at a competitor and calculating the next tactical move. In this same moment, someone else is stepping gingerly to leeward, peeling a jib sheet from the self-tailer, placing their palm against the rope, and easing it forward a fraction of an inch. And someone else, in a lightweight dinghy, is trimming a mainsheet with a single calculated click of the ratchet. The sailor’s glance rapidly shifts to the telltales twitching off the back of the mainsail. And elsewhere at this very moment, someone is sharing a beer at the yacht club bar, regaling a story about a race won on the final beat with a masterful cover. This is sailboat racing right now, and it’s happening in its many forms, satiating the competitive desires of amateurs and professionals, of junior sailors and masters alike. We’re all different, the saying goes, but it’s true: We’re all the same, connected by our unquenchable passion for performance sailing.
I was thinking about the threads that connect all racing sailors while immersed in a recent corporate-mandated “Brand DNA Analysis.” In the publishing world, we no longer have magazines, we have brands, which include the magazine you hold in your hand (or on your tablet) and its digital extensions: websites, newsletters, social media, etc. When we’re publishing across so many different mediums, we need to make sure that we’re always true to our voice, to our standards, and to you, our audience. The day long semantics exercise was all about defining our DNA, and our mandate was to emerge with three words that would guide our editorial decisions. We came away with competitive, experiential, and authentic.
The first, competitive, should be obvious, especially as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary with this issue. Like you, we’re a competitive bunch of sailors equally obsessed with the fundamental elements that take a lifetime to grasp: calculated tactics, perfect boathandling, and optimum boatspeed. For us, there is no casually cruising from A to B. It’s A to B as efficiently as possible, against the clock or a competitor, just like the cat sailor looking over his shoulder.
The sharing of our collective experiences in these pages and online is what connects us, and our infatuation with the sport. Each month, our racing editors and contributors impart knowledge, just as our friend at the yacht club bar does. Their wisdom is experiential, empirical, and real—just like the dinghy sailor’s trim or the jib trimmer’s ease.
Authentic, the third—but most important—word in our DNA exercise was perhaps the toughest one to nail down, but in the end, it was obvious: It is the one word that speaks to the founders and all the editors, photographers, and contributors that have been a part of it for five decades. It speaks to the reliability of the every story, and to a genuine passion for performance sailing and storytelling. I can promise you, Dear Reader, that in this age of sensationalism and multimedia noise, our authenticity will never falter. It has worked for us for 50 years, and it’s impossible to ignore our DNA.