From ancient seamanship to sailing today!
It’s been thirty-two years and forty-five thousand miles at sea since I first –while still a small child – sailed a curious little square vessel of Optimist Class. It was on a Halkidiki beach and under the watchful eye of a close family friend, Greek champion at the Finn back then, where I was set out on a course which defined my whole life and general outlook towards things; sailing had left its indelible mark on me.
To my eyes that vessel seemed gigantic, whereas now I could barely fit into something similar. In any case, the horizon was the same; infinite, that is! Now, three full decades later, facing the blue green water of the Sani beach, my back to the hotel, I find myself gazing at the same vastness of the sea.
It’s pointless to refer to things that have changed in the meantime. Society, economy, habits, circumstances… Technology and development… Luxury and hardship… The nature loving summer hiker has made way for the organized traveller on a short cruise. Sailing has assumed whole new levels of professionalism and many sailors have achieved international distinction, winning a variety of cups and medals. The vessels themselves have changed; they have become lighter, safer and faster. They are also now much easier to use and – perhaps most importantly – affordable and accessible.
Now, three full decades later, facing the blue green water of the Sani beach, my back to the hotel, I find myself gazing at the same vastness of the sea.
Without the benefit of the internal combustion engine for thousands of years, sailing skills, seamanship, ship building and, mainly, navigation – both as a practice and as a method of transportation by sea – were a matter of one’s raw ability to harness the power of the sea winds. For centuries sailors’ training aimed at the development of the very techniques and qualities now commonly found among modern-day competitive sailors as well as competition sailing in general. Indeed, it could well be said that, in essence, Columbus was “running a race”, so as to reach the New World in such time before his supplies ran out.
In Greece, with its six thousand islands and vast coastline, the tenth longest in the world, it is difficult not to identify – in one way or another – your life with the sea. This makes me wonder in all reason why it is WE didn’t discover America. My very personal criterion throws out a groundbreaking answer. “Humans discovered the whole world as sailors, and of course not as a nation or a citizen of a single state, under whose flag they may happen to have found themselves sailing.”
Therefore, if our seamanship unites us all as citizens of the world, the sailing arena – as an opportunity to pit our skills against others and emulate the feats of those gone before – gathers together and showcases all the qualities that undoubtedly allude to a distant, common seafaring past. How would one describe such an arena and what would its characteristics be?
With accomplished athletes and select international participants!
With the same vessels, one design, identical and equal!
With the same weather and the same conditions for every pair of contestants!
With sea duels, one against one!
With strict rules, as a genuine game of tactics and imaginative strategy!
With deft maneuvers and unparalleled technique as prerequisite!
Spectacular… looking towards infinity while just 150 metres from the shore!
Sani Cup – HMRT 2015: For some of us a childhood Match-Racing dream about to become true on May 1st at The Sani Resort in Halkidiki.