I don’t put much personal on this blog, but I have to share this. This week my Dad’s cousin-in-law John Bonds passed away. He was a Navy Capt. He ran the Navy sailing team for many years, he ran US Sailing(formally known as USYRU) from 1988-1994, and was a great sailor. We became very close to John Bonds this last year as he helped my son while in College in Charleston, SC where they lived. John Bonds was everything about what is Sailing, we have many things to learn from his generation. In researching information about him I came across this 1991 article he wrote on changing USYRU to US Sailing. I have never seen such a great article to explain my passion of Sailing:
What’s the Sport About?
June 1991 John Bonds
Incident to the name change issue [from USYRU to US SAILING],
many of you included comments with your cards that came back. I was struck
most by the comments of some that the only kind of sailing they did was
racing. That caused me to really stop and think.
I thought I was a pretty avid racer. In our short season here
in New England, I logged 50 days of competition last summer, and yet racing
is only part of the sailing I do. If I had to give up the non-racing part
of my sailing, it would greatly reduce my enjoyment of the sport. To me,
sailing is a whole life experience. More than that, it is a way of life.
In the years when we were raising a family and moving every two
years on less than munificent Navy pay, Beth and I were among the strongest
advocates of boat ownership. We drove older cars; we made and finished our
own furniture; Beth made her own clothes and many for the children; and I
was a general handyman. All, in part, so we could afford to have a boat in
which our whole family would participate. One of the aphorisms we derived
was "a car is just a car-to get you from one place to another; a boat is a
way of life." Our boats changed our lives, enriching us all in ways that
nothing else could have done in those years, bringing us together as a
family. The common experiences on the water made our family a solid, loving
and mutually respectful unit. We wouldn’t trade anything for those
wonderful years; partly racing, partly cruising, partly daysailing-a whole
way of life.
I remember many racing days, of course, but some of my clearest
memories are non-racing scenes. We have a photograph on our kitchen wall
that shows Margaret at age nine, standing in the cockpit of our old Coronado
25 with the family basset hound, Albert, while I, son John and a male friend
of his at age 10 are in the water alongside. Margaret’s hands are on her
hips and she’s clearly saying "Oh, you boys!" That excursion was about a
mile from where we docked the boat across Narragansett Bay to a little cove
where the anchor was dropped, the mainsail furled roughly and where we all
went for a swim after work. I suppose the point of all this is to suggest
gently and yet fervently that if all you’re doing is racing, you’re denying
yourself some really wonderful golden days that are available to you. It
may be no more than an afternoon sail with just the main up while you
reestablish your ties with the quiet side of life, or a trip across the bay
with some children for an afternoon swim and unstructured boisterousness.
Or it may be a family picnic. Of course, it can also be a week-long cruise
or a charter in the Caribbean. But whatever it is, part of sailing is
relaxing, reestablishing those links with our maritime heritage that somehow
renews us. I’d urge you to try to find time for this non-racing activity in
the midst of your competition. You’ll be a more fulfilled person, and
you’ll probably race more successfully as well.
Have a great summer!