Life on the water

As Malcolm Tisdale (’18) finishes another day on the water, he and his fellow crew members anchor their boat for the night. An avid sailor, Tisdale has grown accustomed to this process. He competes on a race team, is a crew member on a 65-foot boat and also teaches kids to sail Laser boats throughout his summers in Cobscook Bay, Maine. 

The larger boat, which Tisdale is a crew member on, has sailed from Maine to as far as Canada and Nantucket, MA, a distance he hopes to extend in future summers.

With different strategies and tactics to master, sailing poses mental and physical challenges for Tisdale. Focusing on the sail’s position and the direction of the wind, he must always be alert and ready to adapt and move as quickly as possible.

While sailing can be difficult for Tisdale at times, the challenges are balanced out by the sense of enjoyment associated with the sport. When Tisdale is sailing with others he finds that everyone has the same goal and is working collectively towards achieving it.  “Sailing always has really tightly knit communities of people that are usually always trying to help each other,” Tisdale said.

Harry Hodkinson (’18) spends his summers racing in Shelter Island, NY. After learning to sail when he was 9 Hodkinson picked up racing and has participated in over 20 regattas since his initial encounter with the sport.

Hodkinson is drawn to the competitive side of sailing, recalling his favorite sailing memory as the first regatta he won in 2012. At the time, he was sailing in an Optimist, a smaller sailing boat for only one person, and won the Blue Fleet division for 11- and 12-year-olds, at the Old Cove Regatta in Long Island.

Since sailing in this regatta, Hodkinson has adapted to the larger Laser boats, which only require one person to handle, but move more quickly in the water. Like Tisdale, Hodkinson also finds sailing to be tactically challenging, as well as  physically demanding.

Similar to Hodkinson and Tisdale, Caitlin Welch (’18) has always thought of sailing as a large part of her summer. Spending her time in Bay Head, NJ, Welch has been sailing for seven years in both smaller Optimists crafts and faster ‘420’ boats.

For Welch, sailing provides many benefits, including time spent with her friends who she does not see during the school year. “It is a competitive way to spend time with your friends and you get to spend your day relaxing on the water,” Welch said.

While Welch likes to relax and have fun on the water, she also enjoys the competitiven nature of the sport. She has competed in various regattas in New Jersey, sailing both Optimists and 420s.

Welch’s most adored memory remains participating in a sailing competition in Bay Head during the fall of 2014. During the race Welch’s boat and a friend’s boat capsized, leaving the two girls floating in the middle of the race course with a boat full of water. Laughing about the experience now, Welch said she has always enjoyed the social aspects of sailing, as she has been sailing with friends since the age of seven.

Tisdale, Hodkinson and Welch enjoy the racing aspects of sailing, but Lynn Albright (’15) engages in the sport for relaxation and pleasure. Albright may participate in a casual race from time to time, however she finds the racing aspect of the sport adds lots of competition, which she does not enjoy.

Learning to sail at a Girl Scout Camp one summer, sailing Albright presented her with opportunities to meet people and learn various skills. “If you’re sailing with other people you build relationships and leadership abilities,” Albright said. “If you are sailing by yourself you [gain] independence and you could be in a situation where you have to take care of yourself, in something that could potentially be really dangerous, and that is really a good thing to do as a pastime.”

While Albright must manage herself in dangerous situations, she still struggles with trusting her abilities. “I think the biggest challenge is being confident enough in your own abilities to just go out on the water and know that if there is a situation, you know exactly how to deal with it,” Albright said.

Living in London has posed challenges for Welch, Albright and Tisdale’s sailing desires. Albright, who moved to London from Houston, Texas, has found that she is still able to sail in London, with the trade off of the season being much shorter compared to that in Texas, where she could sail almost year-round.

Similar to Albright, Welch’s sailing season has been drastically shortened due to living in London. As Welch does not sail in London, she is put at a disadvantage when she returns to the water in the US, as many of her friends have the privilege and opportunity to sail year-round.

Tisdale, on the other hand has found it harder to keep up with his passion for sailing year-round. While he may not be sailing at the level of his friends, Tisdale has found an opportunity to sail in the U.K., at the Queen Mary Club, which allows him to sail when he gets the chance.

Due to schoolwork and other activities, it is challenging to find the appropriate time needed to sail. “To be very good at sailing, to be on a proper team, you need to be investing a lot of time into it and a lot of time and practice. That is something that the school year doesn’t really give you, so at the moment… I can’t be sailing to my best performance,” Tisdale said.

However, Tisdale looks to find more time to sail during the school year and sail in university, if possible. Currently, Tisdale has the chance to participate in races every Sunday, but he is not on the proper race team, which remains a goal of his for the imminent future.

Welch also wishes for sailing to be present in her future. She envisions herself working in a sailing shop or becoming a coach, and has thought about sailing for a “relaxed” sailing club in university.