It doesn’t matter where we are in the world or how we enjoy the sport. All that counts is pushing off the ramp or the dock or the beach or the mooring and raising a sail, on the weekend closest to the summer solstice.
John Arndt, the associate publisher at the sailing magazine Latitude 38, started Summer Sailstice in 2001, to connect sailors around the world in a common celebration of our sport.
“For one weekend I wanted everyone who moves through or over the water powered by the wind to feel that common bond," John explains. "Whether you’re training for the Olympics or planning to cross an ocean on a 15-ton cruiser, there's a common heritage to sailing that connects all sailors.”
Through the Summer Sailstice website, John introduces participants to each other and shares tales from previous Sailstice events. Last year 4500 boats in all 50 states and 47 countries took part. Plans for this year are already well underway, all over the world.
As to the number of people who participate, well, that’s harder to quantify.
“In Milwaukee they had a big event and about 40 people signed up, but their estimation of total participation is about 850. At just 4 sailors per boat we'd have over 16,000 sailors participating, but the number is probably much larger.”
The event has grown every year, though not as fast as John had hoped. “I am thrilled by the participation, the pictures, the smiles, the boats, the places I see people sailing as part of a global celebration of sail. But I'm still looking to the day when we have sailboats with sails raised in every time zone around the world.”
And even though this is sailing for its own sake, anyone who registers might also win one of 400 prizes—like $5000 toward a Footloose Sailing Charter in the BVI, Offshore Sailing School tuition, or a gift certificate to West Marine. Or even a new boat, a Hobie inflatable kayak.
After such a long winter, none of us should need any extra incentive to get out on the water and celebrate summer. And signing up is easy. So join the fun of Summer Sailstice 2011, and I’ll see you on the water on June 18.