As many of you know, Wooden Boats for Veterans has been getting vets out on SF Bay for over seven years, and with additional vessel donation(s) and Covid winding down we will be expanding this capability through the rest of 2022. But what about actually racing
wooden boats with veterans?
Our organization is more focused on providing the fundamental experience of sailing and the camaraderie that can help support our vets, most of whom have no prior sailing experience. Racing offers the opportunity for even more tightly coupled crew capability, a higher bar for preparation, and also safety. In short, racing pushes all of the basics that we normally practice to another level. So, how do we get there with an all vet crew ready that doesn’t have much racing experience?
Enter Alex Salogub, an Air Force veteran with two decades racing experience on SF Bay. He donated his time to instruct members of WBFV team and provide a deeper understanding of all the tweaks that are done to the sails for speed, how to balance the pressure on the tiller with the mainsheet (for speed and safety), how to visually read wind shifts and current changes, and how to tune the rig for speed. In the corporate world we’d call this a ‘train the trainer’ approach, so that his knowledge can then be shared with a broader group of vets that find this type of higher intensity activity to be a positive emotional experience.
So how did the race go?
Moderate conditions of 15-20 knots and light 1’-3’ chop made for a good opportunity to
showcase some of the newly honed skills. Sunda was the first in her starting group to cross the line and she maintained good standing among the fleet of vintage wooden sailboats on the course that day. Eventually, she passed a few boats that had started earlier and ultimately spent the last few legs of the race in a see-sawing, back and forth battle with a single boat.
At this stage of WBFV growth, it was a win to have the crew and boat ready to compete and provide several other competitors a run for their money. It’s also a win that we can provide the opportunity for our vets who really get the sailing bug, a way to take their new skills to the next level. It is a stretch goal for our organization to continue building on this and ultimately have THREE or more classic wooden sailboats compete in the Master Mariner’s cup in 2024. But to get there we need your help.
Any folks with racing and sailing experience who want to help vets train on the water? Passing down some of your knowledge to vets who can really benefit physically and emotionally from the opportunity may be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on the water. Contact us to get involved or to just get more info on our sailing program.
Terry founded WBFV in 2014 to build a community of veterans and their families around wooden boats.
Service, Sailing, & Community