There’s an old saying about sailing: “A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind.”
The wind conditions were near perfect Saturday on Sarasota Bay. The sky was the exact shade of blue one would expect on a sunny day. The gentle lapping of the waves against the hull created a sense of calm before the Bird Key Yacht Club's Sarasota Bay Cup Regatta began at 1 p.m.
The event was organized by Michael Landis and Marvin Quin, co-chairs of the Sarasota Bay Cup Regatta, with help from volunteers, members, staff and captains.
At 1 p.m., the sound of the horn signaled the start of the race, and the sailors were off.
There were 67 boats on the water competing in the regatta in two categories: performance handicap racing fleet and one-designs.
“The larger (PHRF) boats can vary in size and are handicapped based on technical criteria,” said Landis, who was also competing in the race with his PHRF cruiser, Eventide.
Quin competed on his PHRF cruiser, Quinessential.
“The PHRF boats had a pursuit start, where corrections are given at the start of the race instead of after the finish. That means the slower boats started first,” said Landis.
This allows the fleet to finish in place-order around the same time.
One-design boats had their own course, racing in a sequence in the southwest area of the bay so there was no concern of larger boats and one-designs colliding.
Landis explained that the bay is wonderful for smaller-design racing.
The colorful array of boats and their crew members became one as they glided across the water. The day's wind became their partner.
With each tack and jibe, the participants in the race used their skill and knowledge to become attuned to the wind and the waves.
“It comes down to skill with everyone involved,” said Landis.
As the race progressed, the sailors remained focused and determined, working together as a team to overcome any obstacles that came their way.
It’s difficult to put into words the exact feeling one gets from sailing. Some sail for the sense of freedom and independence the sport brings, others for the thrill. Some say the world looks anew from the deck of a sailboat.
As the race came to an end, it was clear that it was not just about winning.
It was about the thrill of the competition, the camaraderie of the sailors and the passion for the sport.
The race lasted about three hours and was followed by an awards ceremony with dinner and drinks.
Doug Fisher, the winner of the Sarasota Bay Cup, explained that he and his crew started third from last on their PHRF multi-hull.
“It’s a catamaran, so you have to sail light. We had a lot of boats to pass, and we got through all that traffic,” said Fisher. “It was perfect wind conditions, and the air was light. It was windy enough that we reached 12 knots at times.”
Landis explained that to organize the regatta, it took an army.
“This was the weekend of parties interrupted by a sailboat race on Saturday afternoon,” said Landis.