There are not many sports that one can enter and continue to stay active in throughout their entire life. Sailing, however, is one sport that can grow and evolve with us from a very young age and well into the retirement years. Whether you are on the racing team, the coaching team or the race committee team, sailing is a sport one can be involved in for a lifetime.
Many sailors begin by sailing from birth with family or by attending local sailing camps, where they learn to sail in small sailing dinghies and, eventually, learn to race. Racing can continue on in high school and then college sailing teams. Some may continue as cruising sailors while others train to sail at higher national and international levels such as the Olympics or America’s Cup. However, there are plenty of sailing clubs where sailors can compete in local and regional regattas, whether they are 12 or 80.
Dick Rose, US Sailing certified National Judge and US Sailing and World Sailing authority on the Racing Rules of Sailing, learned to sail as a child from his mother who had a love of sailing, then from a nearby sailing club where he also learned how to race. He said that as a young sailor he was not the best racer but “thought the challenge of racing was fascinating!” Dick grew up sailing dinghies on Long Island Sound and was a standout in several classes, including Penguins, Lightnings, Snipes, International 14s, and Lasers. He was a member of the sailing team at Princeton University and sailed frostbite races in the winters out of Larchmont Yacht Club where Arthur Knapp Jr, another Princeton alum and sailing legend, was one of his mentors. In addition to racing, he has stayed involved by supporting the sport in the other ways. He was president of the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association while at Princeton, became one of the first US Sailing certified Judges, has held multiple positions on the board and various committees with US Sailing, is a thirty-year member of World Sailing’s Racing Rules of Sailing Committee, has served as the US Olympic Sailing Team rules advisor multiple times, and was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2021.
John Dieselman, a US Sailing certified National Judge and Judge Instructor, says he has “been involved in sailing since 1940 at eight years of age and am still spending all my summers either racing, cruising or judging at the age of 90. I have been a member of US Sailing for all the years it has been in existence.”
Peter Gerard, US Sailing certified National Judge and Regional Race Officer, has been active in various positions on the club and regional levels for years. “Almost 79 years ago I started out in the bow as nipper and then bow person,” he said. “Over the years, I moved further aft, due in part to my size, and hopefully my skill and experience. And this year I am moving back to the bow, only this one is not a race boat, but the signal boat. In 1989, after actively campaigning my J/24 in the Texas circuit, I saw this classic boat that stopped me in my tracks. The good news was that there was a small fleet of Shields at Rush Creek Yacht Club, my home club. I bought my Shields, the Llama, in 1990 and became class president three years later, the same year we hosted the Shields Nationals. We moved the Llama to Newport, RI when we bought a summer home there, and I became an active member of the Ida Lewis YC fleet. Now 33 years after I bought my first Shields, I am stepping onto the race committee signal boat as PRO for the 56 Shields Nationals.”
Sailing is certainly a lifelong experience. Even the world’s best sailors learn new things every day. The people they meet along the way form relationships that last for a lifetime. Here at US Sailing we are grateful for all the sailors who have chosen to give back in multiple ways to the sport that has given them so much.