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Sailing is one of the world’s oldest and most beloved recreational activities.
Not only just a sport, sailing is in so many ways an art. It is an expression
of the ability of a sailor to become a part of one of the most simple, and yet
most difficult to master, machines ever developed. In theory, the invisible
arm of the wind reaching out across the sky to push a watercraft forward is an
However, when one factors in all of the difficulties and challenges, it
becomes a lot more difficult. With this difficulty comes the interest in the
sport. There is, too, a relaxing concept associated with the activity that is
unparalleled in the entire world. Countless times in fiction across a
countless number of societies there is the depiction of an individual at rest
in his or her vessel, staring up at the stars without a care in the world.
Generally, sailing as a sport is divided into two categories. Long-distance
sailing is often an endurance sport, and can last over the course of several
days or perhaps even longer. Offshore, or blue-water, sailing often falls into
this category when one truly sails out on the ocean. Day sailing is the art of
setting sail for a relatively short period of time by comparison, as the name
might suggest. Day sailing may be enjoyed even in so-called brown water
situations, such as on inland lakes or rivers.
Today’s sportsman is not too different from the sailor of yesteryear. The
contender who truly looks for a competitive edge in the sport of sailing uses
the same skills that any other mariner would have. Indeed, he is not too far
separated from the sailors of tall ships as least some sailing vessels were
used as late as the Great War. Tall ships made with metallic hulls, known as
Windjammers, continued to operate into the middle of the twentieth century.
Of course, with the relentless pursuit of technology, there have been
countless improvements since that time. With polymer sails, engines adapted to
otherwise sail-driven craft, and the use of advanced materials in hull
construction, today’s mariner is a lot better off than that of yesteryear. It
will surely be exciting to see how the march of progress continues to
influence the various facets of sailing, and what it will do for the
competitive aspect of the time honoured sport.
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