Saturday, December 8, 2007

1,000 Smiles, 1,000 Possibilities, 1,000 Dreams

If you could close your eyes and image a place where spring is just around the corner and the flowers are starting to bloom adding the beautiful colors of red, purple, and yellow against the back drop of a turquoise blue sea, clear skies, and trees dancing in the afternoon seas breeze. As you slowly walk along the rolling hills of the sea side shore breath taking views emerge in each bend of the pathway, you take a deep breath and taste the salt in your month only to slowly realize this is not a dream, this is my life. The beauty of the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand is something I hope each and every one of you get to experience for yourself.

One of the many things that make this place special is the people. Kiwi’s love their country and are incredibly passionate about sailing. Auckland is known as the 'City of Sails' and it seems almost all Kiwis are born with a set of sea legs. As a relatively new windsurfer I have never had a chance to go out on what some sailors call a "proper" sailing boat or even on a little dingy boat for that matter. Last week, I had the opportunity to go out on a Friday night, to experience the Auckland Harbor "Rum Race."

As a windsurfer I thought I understood the freedom of the sea but one thing a solo windsurfer misses out on is the companionship and team work of a sailor and his crew. A windsurfer has to do it all; rig the sail, adjust the rig settings for the constantly changing wind conditions, read the wind, analyze competitors positions and anticipate their next move, and the list goes on and on. Whereas, each sailor on a boat has one job and works as team with his/her crew to make decisions on what the best move is or sail setting is by updating crew members of competitor’s positions and calling out wind shifts. I loved every minute of it and learned a lot about sailing and sailing tactics.

Now I understand why windsurfers with sailing back grounds have huge advantages. Our boat, PRISM, did not win the bottle of Rum but we had a great time. Each day I am learning a lot here both on the water and off.

In the RSX World Championships there will be 200 sailors representing over 56 countries. As sailors arrive, I have had the opportunity to sail with the best sailors from around the world. It is an amazing experience to look up at the sailor’s numbers next to you on the water and see; Belgium, Turkey, Denmark, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Israel, Germany, Canada, Hungry, Italy, and many more.

Denise Parris, USA 235