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Sailing Away

There's nothing like time on a boat to relax, compete, or just find your center

In April's "Explore" issue, we had a quick teaser about sailing as a local adventure. Because of the number of positive responses we had to that piece, we wanted to bring you a more in-depth feature on the sport of sailing.

According to Gary Nackman, sailing can be anything you want it to be. Typically, it’s a time for a gentle cruise, either on a lake, a river, or the ocean. It can also be competitive — for those so inclined, there are sailing races that can pump up your adrenaline. 

“It can be as simple as going out on a Sunfish enjoying the great outdoors,” says Dr. Nackman. “It’s a way to travel and be independent. I’m getting ready to do a race that we do every year, from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda.” He’s been sailing his entire life. “I’ve been sailing since before I was born. My mother was pregnant with me on their boat. As a kid, my dad would be lying on the beach in Brooklyn, seeing the sailboats out there and always swore that one day, that’s what he would do.”

“For camaraderie, it’s a wonderful experience. It’s a great community of sailors. You could see someone wearing a hat from some regatta that you’d been in and strike up a conversation. Two hours go by before you finish your conversation.”

Jen Dalto, agrees. “I like it because it’s a family sport. It’s a community that can race against each other, the adrenaline and anxiety mixed together, which I love, then you come back and sit with a beer and talk with everyone you just competed against.” 

Sailing becomes part of your lifestyle. Boats beget boats, as kids who sail with their parents and grandparents often will get a boat of their own one day. “That’s the cool part about it,” Dalto adds. “It’s something that the generations share.”

But sailing isn’t just about racing and competition. It’s also a way to find peace, serenity, and an escape from the grind. Jeff Hecht uses his boat, “Sails Call”, as a way to recenter himself. “I get on my boat and feel free from the stress of running my agency. When the sails catch the wind, it begins to bring a sense of balance and calm to ‘normal life’ and I can feel human again. There’s no other feeling like it.”

For those interested in trying it, ASA schools offer a great training program to take you from not knowing which end of a rope to pull on all the way to being able to navigate by the stars. (