Happy New Year! I’m starting off 2024 with a very specific dose of gratitude, and for context we need to take a quick look back at my sailing history.
The very first experience I had steering a dinghy at a high-level regatta was in the Europe, which was (in those bygone days) the women’s singlehanded Olympic boat. I hated it… especially when I found myself talking out loud, to no one. “Come on Carol, you can do better than that!”
As a “professional” Snipe crew, I thought at first that I just didn’t like steering. Oh, the pressure… and the starting skills I’d never learned! It was only once I stepped into the skipper’s role on the doublehanded Snipe (and loved it) that I correctly identified my previous dislike: what I hated, it turns out, was racing by myself. As one of my favorite competitors puts it, “Who do you have lunch with?”
That explains why it took a three-handed women’s boat before I stepped up to the Olympic challenge once more. It also explains why, ever since, I’ve stuck with boats that require a crew. Let me pause for a shout-out to all my teammates, most especially my longtime “Snipe Sista,” Kim Couranz. Thank you for relieving much of that skipper pressure by keeping it fun, and for helping me to achieve a few race-winning starts this year!
Two years ago, I embraced two very different singlehanded endeavours: model boat racing and wingfoiling. That might seem like a change of heart, until we look a bit closer: I have a buddy for both, my husband Paul. No matter how heated our interfamily competition gets on the water (how many DF 95s did you beat, how fast did you foil), we remain a team. And I never find myself talking out loud to no one.
Last summer, I gained yet another buddy who helped me work toward a longtime goal. For more than three decades, I’ve wanted to reestablish Narragansett Bay’s Snipe Fleet 17. Even before Bob and Steph Adam bought a Snipe, our discussions dug up possible solutions to the many local challenges, both on and off the water, of trying to add low-key dinghy sailing to the amped-up Newport sailing scene. We decided the best fit for an evening series might be the Monday Night (Madness) racing, and the organizers kindly said yes to my vague request. Then “Hurricane Bob” took on the hardest part, the job I hated most: calling potential local Snipe sailors and inviting them to join us. The result? Three to five Snipes racing out of Newport Harbor, for the first time this century.
I quite happily do all of my writing solo, reaching out only when I need a fact checked or a developmental edit, but when it comes to sailing I definitely prefer to have a buddy. So thanks Bob and Steph for teaming up this year to start the Fleet 17 rebuild. And a big thanks to Kim, for keeping me laughing and (mostly) sailing my best.
The biggest thanks goes to Paul, for being my buddy in everything else. I wouldn’t be having nearly so much fun on the water if I had to talk to myself!
Got a preference for solo or duo or team sports (or a funny story to share about Bob)? Add a comment, or email me. I gratefully read every single one.