Listen to the sailing kids

January 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

C. Chapin explains what happens if you don’t, in this short story shared on the Saving Sailing Facebook page:

At the Interlake Nationals at Indianapolis Sailing Club in 1989, I sailed with my ten-year-old son, Bill and Tom, a 14-year-old also from our club. Geist Reservoir is a crescent-shaped lake and in one race the course was a complex, saw-toothed shape with an intermediate windward mark that was out of sight from the starting area.

As we sailed up the lake, we spied the mark near the eastern shore and tacked onto starboard to approach it. Bill piped up and said, “Dad, aren’t we supposed to round this to port?” Tom and I patiently explained to him that rounding it to port would require looping the mark, which would be unsafe with the fleet still grouped tightly together. We rounded the mark to starboard, but noticed other boats passing (not rounding) the mark to port by sailing up the western shore.

We finished the race with a good score and turned past the RC boat to head in for the day. The course was still posted with the intermediate mark clearly with a red background.

I turned to Bill and said, “I’m sorry Bill. You were right and Tom and I were wrong. We were supposed to round that mark to port like you said.” The two boys looked at me. Tom asked, “What are we going to do?” I replied, “There’s only one thing to do. We’re going to withdraw from the race.”

Tom asked, “But what about all the other boats? None of them rounded it to port.” My answer was that the other boats had a problem with sailing the course also, but our course was clear.

As soon as the RC boat docked, I reported to them that we were withdrawing because we had not properly sailed the course and added that I didn’t think that anyone else had. It turned out that one boat had rounded the mark to starboard, realized their error, returned, unwound their string, rounded correctly, and flown a protest flag.

Ultimately, the race was abandoned because of the mark set boat’s error in placing the mark, but the postscript was that if the race had been allowed to stand and the protest allowed, we would have been National Champions. As it was, we finished fourth overall.”

– C. Chapin

Do you have a parenting while sailing story to share? Please email me, or share on Facebook.

– ndh (

Parenting While Sailing, Sailing While Parenting

January 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Joe and Deb do them both, and Joe explains what happens:

my best memories and greatest laughs came from sailing with kids…

I read your piece in SA this morning and I had to comment. I agree with you completely that mentoring is key. I am not writing to toot our horn, but my wife and I have involved many kids in sailing. We thought we could not have kids. Then after being married for 14 years, we had a wonderful child.

During those 1st 14 years of marriage, we sailed any where and any time we could. When we bought a new boat, my Mother called it her grandchild. During that time, many of our very close sailing friends left sailing because they had kids. As we watched that happen we recognized that in order to keep sailing, we had to keep our son involved. We figured that including as many of his friends as possible would ensure he always had a friend (or 6) to bring to the boat.

Now, 20 years later, he and his friends have sailed multiple Bayview Mac races, many regattas on all kinds of boats up to and including 70’s, and sail on their respective University sailing teams. Many have been involved with the local community sailing association, taking several years of lessons, and a couple of them are US Sailing certified instructors.

I am confidant that more than 10 young adults out of the 40 or 50 that have sailed on our boats over the last 20 years will be lifelong sailors (good ones too for those detractors). The best part for me is that some race, some do not, but they all sail for the pure joy it brings them. They also have learned to maintain and repair the boats they sail on and are considered invaluable crew members because they are willing to tackle any job needing to be done.

Suffice it to say I am very proud of them all and I believe sailing has taught them the life skills they need to be very successful. The only sad part is that they now sail with others and not so much with Deb and me. I have personally sailed on many boats and in many racing programs, and my best memories and greatest laughs came from sailing with kids. A good friend of mine said it best one dark midnight to four watch: “I have been a goof off all my life, I decided it’s best to hang out with the best goof offs of all: kids. They don’t judge me too harshly.” This person is very successful and many of you know him so we will leave his name out of the story.

Please keep working to develop the mentoring attitude, it will turn around sailing and make the next generation more likely to mentor those in the generation following them.

Hearty round of applause for Joe and Deb, for all they do.

Do you have a parenting while sailing story to share? Please email me, or share on Facebook.

– ndh (

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