Flying on the Water

Submitted by Elsa White from Bristol

Herreshoff sailing camp is truly a place like no other. Every summer, unforgettable memories are made and people are brought together as sailing is taught and learned in an exciting way. I can recall so many memorable moments that I’ve experienced here at the camp. From exhilarating, high-wind afternoons with whitecaps and the sensation of flying over the water to slow, calming morning sails where you can just relax and enjoy the sights of Bristol Harbor, Herreshoff offers the best of sailing.

One particular highlight of my 2020 summer year, though, was learning how to sail a UFO. This small hydrofoiling boat is able to lift off the water to decrease the drag put on the main hull, resulting in faster sailing. I took the class with three other students, and together, the instructor taught us how the boat worked. He showed us the foils and how the unique design would bring us up out of the water as we sailed. Later that morning, we were able to try it out in the harbor, each taking turns to see how it moved as we steered it, and slowly adjusting to holding both the main sheet and the tiller in the light winds. When we got back on land to eat lunch, we became curious to see how the UFO would actually look foiling in high winds. Then the afternoon came, and whitecaps started forming on the water as the wind started rapidly picking up. The time had come to learn how to truly foil. We motored out past the mooring field as the instructor sailed beside us, then the first transfer was made and one of the students took hold of the boat. The wind picked up even more, and he was off, the motor boat chasing after him. We switched skippers after about twenty minutes each, and when it was my turn, I took the tiller and main as the instructor explained, and then the sail caught the wind and I sped through the water. Listening over the wind to advice from the instructor, he told me to pull in the main and I did. And then I pulled it in a little more, and soon I found myself in the water. I had capsized the boat. I quickly climbed back on. As I got more and more experience on the boat, I slowly learned through trial and error what worked and what didn’t. As it turns out, pulling the main sheet all the way in with such high winds was sure to flip the UFO over.

While the afternoon progressed, I slowly started to figure it out. One of the main goals of sailing the UFO was to get both hulls out of the water, and to do that you had to be going fast enough, and you had to be balanced. On one of my last turns, I kept that in mind, and as I sailed, I pulled in the main sheet a little more, and felt the boat lift out of the water. I literally felt like I was flying! I don’t think that I’ve ever gone faster in a sailboat in all my life. By the end of the day, I had foiled for a couple of minutes, and it was the most exciting experience. I vividly remember how it felt to be sailing above the water, looking down and seeing the waves rush by. I will certainly never forget that feeling and that moment! And that was just one memory from many summers on the water. Herreshoff is without a doubt a place where great times are made.

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