Where to Look for Tomorrow's Racers

Regular SW readers may scratch their heads over our cover story "5 Ways to Start Racing," but not for long, I hope. Whatever boats we race, you and I are united by a shared desire to see more of them on the line. More selfishly, if you're a skipper, you need good crew; if you're a crew, an enthusiastic skipper. At the very least, you need to know somebody will buy your old racing boat someday. Via our "Racing Forum" at www.sailingworld.com, several readers provided most of the ideas for the article, including real-life experiences of how each method worked. Hopefully the story will encourage neophyte sailors to give racing a try, but in your hands, it might also help to inspire a friend. Or maybe you can use it tointrigue some non-racers at your club, marina, or even at work. Feel free to pass on a copy or print part of the story in a newsletter, as well. Or, if you're involved in a website, link to it at sailingworld.com. Besides magazine stories in this issue (see also Jon Ziskind's story on crewing, p. 56), in April we encouraged Sail America to help raise the profile of racing at their recent Pacific Sail Expo with a "Discover Racing" center. Lynda Myers of the Yacht Racing Association of SF Bay provided the organization for the effort, and the booth was staffed by racers from local racing fleets. Sailing World, Ronstan, and Lewmar also contributed, especially the latter with their winch grinding platform, on which sailors could try grinding in the equivalent of 60 feet of America's Cup boat jibsheet. The Treasure Island Sailing Center and the local Etchells fleet both had nearby booths (and the latter also took visitors in four-boat races just off the docks). The Discover Racing idea can be improved, but it was a great start at creating more energy around racing at a show; it also left me more convinced than ever that people get started in racing through friends and family, or through the accessibility of a sailing organization. Take J/World graduate Elizabeth Paszkiewicz, a psychologist from Oklahoma, who had a chance to use a friend's boat in the Caribbean, so she took a liveaboard cruising course. She then shifted to racing classes and now races her J/22 at Windycrest SC on Keystone Lake, and her J/105 in Newport, R.I. "I think I'm going to buy a Finn, too," she told me. "Your article last month reminded me of the only sailing I did as a young person--decades ago--at the Warsaw University Sailing Club in Poland. The Finn was the boat I learned to sail in." You never know who will be crewing for you next weekend or buying a boat to race against you. And unless you ask, you may never learn that the mild-mannered psychologist next door already has the feel for hiking straps and a tiller extension. Despite living with sailors, my college roommate never sailed in college, but learned soon after at Community Boating while working in Boston. Next thing I knew, he was in graduate school in Chicago and racing to Mackinac Island. He lives in Portland, Ore., now and isn't sailing, but when I saw him recently, we drove by the dinghy park at the nearby Willamette River SC and he told me, with his kids getting older, he was ready to race again. Keep an eye out for him and the thousands like him. And don't forget to ask them along.