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 (

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