Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Sailstice Sailing Celebration

By John Arndt

Summer Sailstice - June 23, 2012

What’s the point of a global sailing celebration?  The diversity and factions within sailing often seem to pit sailor against sailor competing for attention for their particular form of participation.  Summer Sailstice, now in its 12th year, is conceived as a way to unite this diverse and widely dispersed sailing culture by bringing visibility, showcasing the varied paths to participation – and having some fun getting all sailors to sail ‘together’ wherever they are.  

These days it seems like there’s too much focus on the boat and not on the activity.  In this case, we should focus on sail-ing not sail-boats.  You know the club bar talk - multihulls are better than monohulls, kiteboards over windsurfers, racing one-design is better than PHRF racing, wood is better than fiberglass – and on and on it goes.  Shouldn’t there just be a moment when we all realize, first and foremost, getting on the water under sail is what everyone enjoys.  Should we really care how?   There’s no better sight than a Bay filled with sailboats – even if no two are alike.

The timing is right - June 23, 2012
By the third week of June, school is out, the summer solstice is the official, celestial start of summer and there are more daylight sailing hours than any other time of year.  It’s the ideal date for sailing to secure for a dedicated sailing holiday.  With all sailors helping bring attention to this event we can create a mark on the calendar when the world becomes aware that it’s not summer time – it’s sailing time.

Why does it bring sailors together? 
From a global perspective sailing is too small to spend time worrying about how or what people choose to sail. First we’d like them to choose any sailing.  There are sailors who love the speed, technique and technology of something like a foiling Moth but there are craftsman who love the smell of sawdust and varnish with the desire to preserve sailing’s heritage.  When does the foiling Moth sailor sail ‘together’ with a beautifully restored Beetle Cat?  Summer Sailstice is a moment to savor and celebrate all the ways we sail – and do it all together.  We talk about inclusion and this is the time to be inclusive – all people, all sailboats, all places.  Just sail.

Over the years, as more people and clubs, have joined in it’s been interesting to discover more about where and how people sail.  Sailors have participated in all 50 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and over 40 countries in both salt and fresh water.  Now that’s cool!  It’s just hard to imagine how many places people are getting out sailing.  Summer Sailstice gives a one-day snapshot of where and how everyone is sailing.  

How does it affect the sailing community?
Summer Sailstice can help build sailing by creating a template for all organizations to use to bring attention to their sailing activities.   At any one time there are an endless number of dedicated sailors creating and hosting terrific sailing events to connect their fleet or local sailing community - you’ve probably been on one of those committees, but they’re small.  They’re lots of work and they don’t get the attention they deserve.  If all sailors worked on one event together they can leverage off each others efforts while staying focused on their particular aspect of sailing.  

Why do sailors like Summer Sailstice?
In the end, all sailors feel connected even if they participate in wildly divergent ways.  Additionally, sailors are naturally enthusiastic about their pastime and want to connect around it and share it with others.   Finally, sailing is exclusive, not because of the traditional elitist perception but because it involves a level of skill achieved over time.  It’s a club anyone can join but not without an appreciation and dedication to the art of sailing.  There’s a physical and intellectual aspect and, for many, almost a spiritual aspect of moving across the water under the power of wind and sail.  Those who participate understand and taking a moment to celebrate it is something more and more sailors are taking the time to recognize.

It’s simple to sign up at, take a sail – however you most enjoy it – and celebrate with all sailors around the world.   

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