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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 undemanding concept.
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.