I took Beginning Sailing as a lark, a break from all the hard-core entrepreneurial classes at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Besides, it would be a nice way to spend a few hours each week on the water while the weather remains pleasant.
It also has that exotic feel to it, at least for those of us who don’t live near the water. A few lessons and I, too, could sail the ocean blue.
While my classmates and I were mostly just looking to have a little fun, you can’t help but be awed and inspired by the serious competitive nature of the university’s sailing and rowing teams when you enter the Stanford Boathouse in Redwood City. The walls are adorned with photos of Olympic champions going back many decades. Rows of sailboats and racks of rowing shells fill the bottom level of the boathouse, ready to best competitors from around the world.
Before we could dream of Olympic glory, we first had to learn about our boats. Our instructor Clinton Hayes taught us about all the myriad parts on a sailboat, from the hull and mast to the numerous lines, cleats and blocks that make it go. Rigging a sailboat the first couple of times is a little daunting, remembering where everything goes and in what order it has to be done. But soon we were quick at getting our boats ready and in the water.
For our first three sailing sessions, the winds were very light, which allowed us to get used to controlling our sails and steering the two-person boats around this protected area of the bay. A few boats bumped into each other as we learned the ropes, but not hard enough to leave a mark on hulls or persons.
Pretty soon we were all racing around a set of buoys, testing how to get more speed than the other boats. Now I know why they race these boats, and why so many are passionate about it.
At the end of our course we will be certified to rent sailboats and sail on our own. The boathouse also offers rentals for $10 a person to take a boat out for an afternoon. I’m looking forward to summertime when I can take out some of my other fellows to explore the bay.
Perhaps someday I’ll be able to sail to new journalistic adventures on the high seas. The only limits are your imagination.