While visiting Delavan for C Worlds, this article caught my eye. Printed in the local paper, it certainly speaks of what you all create at your local clubs.
Bruised legs, ripped callouses, sore abdomens, and the faint smell of the winning gunshot. The feel of defeat and sight of 65 other sailboats following behind what's left of your wake to the finish line is somewhat indescribable; but when you ask an Inland sailor as myself, it feels like the world. The majority of the community will never know or understand the feeling an Inland sailor has after a regatta or race win, let alone the feeling of a sailboat. The Inland Lakes Yachting Association is a group of midwestern lakes holding regattas and sailing competitive performance sailboats.
There's the world of lake sailing; pleasurable and relaxing, with the expectation and thought of cheese and wine to accompany the happy couple. Then there's the world of an Inland sailor. Their lives are invested in world class and competitive performance sailboats ranging from 7ft to 38ft. An Inland sailor puts his heart and income into new or broken equipment, new sails, the upkeep of their fiberglass and regatta expenses every few weeks. We Inland sailors don't get on a boat to be accompanied by cheese, wine, and the glory of a sunset; we get on a boat to sail fast. We get on a boat to put our minds to the test; to show what we've learned over the many years of training that has been given us. We get on a boat to win.
We put in countless hours of our physical and mental labor during the hot summer days on the lakes of Delavan, Lake Geneva, and surrounding lakes. The general public doesn't think that competitive sailing is strenuous or physical, but with winds ranging from 13 knots to 22 knots, the only weight keeping that boat upright is you and your crews' body weight. This requires pure core strength, along with upper body strength to hold and pull in 40 lbs of sail pressure every few seconds. Ripped hands and severe bruises aren't uncommon either. It all comes along with the 'goody bag of summer fun' we call competitive sailing. In a mental sense, sailing requires rational and practical quick decision making. It requires geometry on countless encounters, the knowledge of wind pressure and shifts throughout the course and a much deeper knowledge of sail shape acceleration and kinetics. Also, a mindset to block out any 'colorful words' said by a fellow competitor isn't too bad to have either. A sailor on any occasion from anywhere cannot and will not begin to explain the logic and mathematics that goes into a race. Instead, they'll probably say, "Start first and increase your lead." A famous quote given by Buddy Melges, the Father and Guru of the competitive sailing world. Someone unfamiliar to competitive sailing may not understand why or how we do it, as long as our Inland sailing community understands. We do this because it's our summer, fall and spring life. It's our family and friends. It's what we've grown up to do will do until our bodies are unable.
As an Inland Lakes Yachting Association member myself, I have the privilege of belonging to this large family stretching across the midwest states. I've grown up with this sport, with this lifestyle and with this community. It's a lifetime sport with continual teaching; every sailor learns with every race he sails. One cannot simply hop on a boat, gain sea legs and expect to win. It takes years of learning and training from others to gain the knowledge needed to make it to the top. To be an Inland sailor is an experience only a tiny, tiny fraction of people will ever get to have. Once you're included in that fraction, you are for life.