Sailing is most definitely a lifetime sport for me, sparked a long time ago by youth sailing lessons. I thrived on the freedom of wandering around the harbor on my own and loitering at the club well past my lesson’s end. The loitering often got me out of cutting my parent’s lawn, but I now know it had more to do with me wanting more time on the water than what my parents had paid for. It always worked. Here, take this Turnabout and scram, kid. From those formative days, though, I’ve intentionally—and fortunately—connected the dots to a lifestyle and a career that still nurture my sailing soul.
Each of my defining life choices thus far have fulfilled an innate desire to be on the water: competing, improving (or at least attempting to), and relaxing alongside family and friends with a tiller in one hand and a beverage in the other. Perhaps this is why I’ve always had a hard time relating to the great number of young adult sailors that vanish from the sport when careers and families come calling. I understand that not everyone’s choices or unique situations can lead to a sailing lifestyle, but I often wonder about those who do leave forever: Do they really try hard enough to seek opportunities? Or did we, as a sport, not try hard enough to retain them?
Perhaps, for every one sailor that departs there’s one that remains by finding a way to make it happen—maybe sailing less often, but enough to remain engaged. And that’s why this issue champions the young adult sailors who are committed to the sport that defines them. These are the hungry Olympic aspirants and the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup go-getters jumping a fast-moving and exclusive gravy train to grand-prix sailing. There are also the other individuals we profile in “Sporting Priorities.” Each has kept sailing into their mid-20s—recreationally, professionally, or by seeking employment in the marine industry.
While speaking to Alex Jacobs (pictured above), who balances a professional career with a hyperactive sailing lifestyle in San Diego, I asked how many of his own friends have stopped sailing. His answer didn’t surprise me.
“I have a couple of buddies here who always say they’d like to get out there and go racing,” says Jacobs. “I offer to help connect them to programs, but it doesn’t happen because they’re only half into it.”
He’s a realist, though, and doesn’t fault them for being noncommittal. “It’s hard going from college, getting used to the real world, having a job, and having to support yourself. But I also think you either want it or you don’t.”
He’s right. I have a sign taped above my computer monitor that reads, “Make It Happen.” I turn to it for motivation in times of procrastination, but frankly, it’s always been my guiding ethos. If I feel strongly about doing something, I go after it. I make it happen. It was this attitude that steered me to where I am today, living what my friends remind me is a pretty sweet life, writing about what I love, traveling to regattas in beautiful places, and meeting new people that share the same passion. I hope the stories in this issue will provide the same motivation to thousands of graduating college sailors entering the workforce this spring. Sailing needs you, and you need sailing. Make it happen, kids.
– Dave Reed