Unlike Any Other Sport

April 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

Start Sailing Now

A version of this article is featured in Spinsheet’s Start Sailing Now brochure.

If you want to stump your sports-minded friends at a party, ask them these trivia questions:

  1. What is the only sport in which an American family team has won an Olympic gold medal?
  2. Who was on the team?

If you are a sailor, your friends may guess the sport, but they probably won’t be able to name the athletes. Father and son Paul and Hilary Smart won a gold medal for the U.S. in 1948, sailing in the Star class. It’s a family feat not since repeated, in any sport, summer or winter.

If you want to further dumbfound your landlubbing friends, ask:

  1. Has any other family team of any nationality ever won Olympic gold?
  2. Who was it, and in what sport?

You’ll get nothing.

It happened in sailing, of course. Charles James Rivett-Carnac and his wife Frances won the gold medal for Great Britain in 1908 sailing their 7-meter. Today, Charles remains the oldest Brit to have won an Olympic medal in any sport. He was fifty-five.

Here’s the point. Sailing, unlike any other activity, is both age and gender agnostic, even, arguably, at its pinnacle. It is unique as the one great outdoor experience done recreationally and competitively by parents and kids and husbands and wives for over a century.

Imagine asking a husband and wife team in their fifties to seriously compete in hockey, or a father-son or mother-daughter team to join forces on the gymnastics squad. It’ll never happen. That it can and does happen in sailing is what makes sailing so special. (You might mention that brother and sister Zach and Paige Railey both made the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad, although they don’t sail together.)

If you really want to impress your friends, ask them to go sailing with you, and tell them to bring their kids, or if they don’t have any yet, to bring their siblings, spouses, parents or even their grandparents. You can do this whether you’re a lifelong sailor with your own boat, or a novice signing up for a first sailing class at the local center. You won’t get blank stares. Instead, expect excitement for a great “new” idea. When you go sailing, you’ll be building on a grand tradition of outdoor family fun and adventure and creating unforgettable family memories.

Who knows, maybe your offer will be the spark that lights an Olympic flame that shines on the next family gold medal.

Paul and Hilary Smart

Paul and Hilary Smart - 1948 Olympic Gold Medal Winners

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