It's an affair to remember and one worth repeating...sitting here with a beautiful office view of the Connecticut valley, reflecting over my last office view of skiffs screaming across the waters of LakeGarda , Italy...I take a moment and look up the dates of the next European event...the country view is breath taking but a "sea" of skiffs awaiting launch makes my heart flutter.
The world of keel boats would regulate my pulse if not for dear friend Mason Woodworth's skiff ambition launching around the same time SailTrim.Org arrived on the virtual scene. I still recall the day...sitting at my cubical in biotech land and looking up the 18footer instead of staring aimlessly at excel spreadsheets... As Mason and team (David Brown and Simone Hamilton) prepared for their first JJ Giltinan Championship event in Sydney 2006; I resigned from team "rat race" with promise to join the boys for the 2007 installment of JJ...and so the affair began as a long distance relationship.
What's the attraction? Combination of speed, carbon fiber and large sail area...at least that's what tickled my fancy. The relationship began when I entered into their world.
My first skiff encounter was in Sydney and the skiff sailor's nature...strong characters with humble hearts drew me into the class. Each of the teams I encountered, whether top flight or breaking trail, carried themselves broadly both figuratively and literally, with their own boats upon shoulders as they made way to the water's edge knowing; no matter how good a sailor you think you are...the 18footer will test both skill and wit.
For you see...the 18 foot skiff is a bit of a mono-haul princess (my opinion of course!). If the sailor does not bestow on her every bit of their attention, meeting her needs...she'll dump them, quite literally. Not focused...you will go swimming...worried about a missed deadline at work...splash!
No matter how humbled, never have I seen a skiff sailor give up from a day's carnage...broken rigs, blown sheets, bowsprits and torn sails...a lawn littered by tools, carbon fiber and rigging till the sun rises; ensuring another day of racing is had. It's off the water where one witnesses the true character of a skiff sailor...
Whether it's sharing tools, tips and tactics or turning the regatta tent party into a surprise 40th for one of their own...the 18 foot skiff sailor is of strong mind, tender heart and good humor...
They are some of the silliest folks I've met in the world of sailing, easily laughing off the day's events. Not sure whether it's due to the Aussie roots combined with British humor and the artistic Europeans...or one race course bringing together the corporate professional who's traded in his suit for neoprene along side the "whipper-snapper" of a sailor who cut classes to make the start (not sure if that's the case...). It's a fleet of mixed nationalities and sailing legends...like no other sailing scene I've witnessed!
No matter...once they leave shore, all are 18 foot skiff sailors...an elite group. It's an 18 foot affair I plan to keep close to heart...do not be surprised if my next tale is from the trapeze...
"Go big or go home..." ~ Team Aeon