In about two weeks’ time, some 80 yachts will rise to the challenge of circumnavigating Denmark. That is the legendary Pantaenius Round Skagen – Germany’s biggest and toughest offshore sailing race extending over 1000 km, starting from the island of Helgoland in the North Sea and finishing in the city of Kiel on the Baltic Sea. This yacht race is famous for its adverse weather conditions and so, incites to think of reasons why people actually go sailing…
Imagine yourself sitting on a constantly moving sailing boat, in the freezing cold for three to four days, being wet and hungry, getting not much sleep, risking injuries, having no internet access or phone network coverage… And it’s windy! Now, I’d bet a lot of money that many of you are thinking that such a sailing trip has to be absolutely horrible, such an undertaking is pointless, it is just utter nonsense. Why on earth should sailing be fun?
I guess, it is that unique challenge of facing the elements on board a rather small boat and the desire to reach the finish line that makes you forget about being cold, wet and tired. Many sailors say that the minute you leave the harbour, a new world opens up in front of you.
Based on my own experience I can tell you: That is right! It is an indescribable sensation to feel the pressure on the rudder, to feel the power of the wind and ocean, to feel the boat accelerating. Natural forces causing the boat to speed up! Sailing offers a unique sensation of freedom!
Now, people might argue that these sensations of power and acceleration can also be felt while driving a car. There is no need to head out to sea, get cold and wet. We could stay in our comfortably warm cars. Well, yes we could of course! BUT while driving a car you are somehow forced to stick to a road with its marked lanes, respect speed limits, traffic signs and your range depends on the size of your fuel tank.
Sailing is different. It is the wind taking you to places – not the fuel tank! Having the helm in your hands, you are in control and decide which route to follow to reach the destination. There seems to be no real “adventure feeling” driving a car on a given highway and leaving at exit number 27. If you are competing in a sailing race, however, there is no predetermined exact route to stick to: it remains your decision to head slightly more east or west, which sail configuration to choose according to the given weather conditions… It is the combination of teamwork, experience, knowledge and luck that turns sailing races into a thrilling adventure!
Landlubbers could go on arguing that sailing is old-fashioned and only for technophobic guys. That’s not quite correct, though: Having no internet access does not mean sailors want to flee from the technological developments on land. In fact, these days, boats have their own “technology corner”, like a small airplane cockpit, and are packed with electronics: GPS, routing and weather software, Radar, Autopilot, AIS and all sorts of navigation instruments. It’s great fun to play with that equipment!
So, in conclusion you see, sailing is way more than a plastic bowl with a mast and a curtain on it floating in the water. I think we should all listen to Mark Twain’s words and remember his message:
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Yannick (21) has been sailing along the Algarve coast since his childhood and has recently passed the renowned RYA Yachtmaster qualification. LIKE and follow his multilingual facebook page “Sailing Pinboard” with daily updates on the subject of sailing and watersports