The editor chose to repeat this article from then-graduating parent Richard Beers. It is a bittersweet regatta for both parent and sailor. From the ILYA, we wish to thank you for all your support over your time of youth involvement. Most importantly, we wish to say welcome to the strong, vibrant classes of scows that wait around the corner. Without doubt, the editor can proclaim there is no family stronger than the ILYA. You are part of something that defines your life.
It Happens Every Year
It happens every year. And each year we feel the spectrum of emotions: joy, heartache, frustration, humility, confidence, fear, regret, sorrow, pride and acceptance.
And for many it's a time to resolve for next year. For some it is a closing chapter.
You don't notice it until the end of the last regatta or race series. You know it's coming, but it doesn't always register until it's in your face. You've been focusing on the next race, the next meal, the next regatta registration, the hotel reservation, the camera, the mooring buoy, the sunscreen, the fruit, the energy bars, text messaging, life jackets, whisker poles, dropped shackles, tie downs, the safety of the boats at night, THE CREDIT CARD and CHECKBOOK, location of the pool, the housewarming gift, mileage of the car, the location of the other cars in the caravan. Then there's the sailing school, the fund raisers, the instructors' housing, team T-shirts. For a select few it's the challenge of hosting a 70-120 boat regatta.
It's most common among those who've done it for years, even across generations. Then it's clear. There will be no more. Whatever was learned was learned. Whatever was not achieved remains to be learned.
There is more than one kind of participant in this sport.
Some learned the start, some learned the tactics; some learned the windward roundings and some the leeward gates. Some learned to cover, and some will never forget when they didn't. Some learned the roll tack, some learned the death roll. Some learned courtesy, and some learned to negotiate. Some did circles, some did not. Some did circles, even when they were right, just to be sure. Some got the favored end in their gut, and some felt the gut wrench at the starting gun. Some learned to protest, and some were faced with the results of learned judgment. All learned life jackets shore to shore. Some had noisy sails, and some were grateful for the duck tape to repair the window. Some had big watches and some without (they learned to do a lot in the last 60 seconds between the signals). Some remember the gleam of the boat, and some remember the dirt and leaves clogging the bailers from earlier years. Some had uniforms and some had only friendships. Some were scared and some were at home. Some learned to move like a cat and some learned to sail flat.
Some learned to put the boats away, and some banged away. Some lost masts and some just clevis pins. Most learned to polish the rudders and centerboards to a shine and Teflon the bottom (tie that boat down, it's really slick). Some learned a new meaning of T-Bone, and some learned the location of the closest fiberglass repair shop. Some did better than their sister or brother, some did better than their neighbor or father. Some took it with pride and some took it in stride. Some were required to participate and some fervently requested to do so. Some stared at the girls, instead of the sails. Some stared at the boys instead of the water. Some stared at the leaking bailer in despair. Some stared at the upcoming pressure. Some learned to boast, and some to console.
A few couldn't wait to do ANYTHING else. Some put it all together, for leg, a race or a regatta. A few just got it all most of the time no matter what lake or wind condition.
A third group participated, but in the background.
Some spent sums to ensure it wasn't the technology or the boat that stood in the way of learning. Some were thankful just to be able to afford a regatta or sailing school. Some learned to back trailers, and some learned to ask for help. Some learned to lecture, some to support. This group also had some doing better than their sister or brother, some doing better than their neighbor. Some learned about trailer lights, and some about safety chains. Some had coolers, and some had lake water. Some camped and some stayed at the resort. Some stayed with new found friends. Some made it a celebration, and some made it a time of intense focus. Some will no longer listen to Tom Hodgson wishing their children would pay attention to the history being made and recounted.
Everyone learned to deal with their expectations. If we could only master them!
Not all will go forward in this sport after this. Some will remember this time as stories of youth gone by. Some will keep going, looking to future races with the relationships just underway. Yet the basics remain in the alteration of our DNA, our muscles, our countenance, regardless of our choice.
This year I have a lump in my throat. I am one of the parents, who after 12 years, is saying goodbye to the X boat fleet, and the ILYA youth sailing.....until our next generation, I pray. Thank goodness for this wonderful association of inland lake yacht clubs. What it has done for our children. Oh the places they've been, and the friends they've made!