Learning to sail was something, honestly, that I never thought I’d ever learn to do. I didn’t know a single person who sailed, even though I grew up near the beach in New Jersey. But that all changed, like most things, when you get married. A family friend of ours named Hayden & Radeen sail every spring around the Caribbean and had some of the most incredible stories and experiences that we couldn’t help but be jealous of. So for Courtney’s birthday, I got her a sailing lesson package through Park City Sailing which offers four Adult Lessons in the summer to learn to sail at our local Jordanelle Reservoir. Since I knew this was something we’d want to do together, I signed up as well.
Starting on this past July 5th, Courtney and I took our first of four sailing lessons. We signed up for a two week course, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8PM, and after the first night, I was hooked. We started by learning the basic terminology of sailing while on land for a half-hour, then hopped into a J22. A 22 foot keelboat that held 4 of us students and an instructor. For the next two hours, we sailed around the Jordanelle. Starting with only the main sail up, we took turns at the helm controlling the main sale and the rudder. We practiced tacking and jibing upwind and downwind sailing.
The next two nights of sailing we started to incorporate the jib into our sailing and tried to dial in our sails to prevent any luffing in the sails when they are let too far out, relative to the angle of the wind, and start showing signs of turbulence in the leading edge of the sail. We took turns, the four students, steering the boat, trimming the main sail, and trimming each side of the jib. It’s a team effort, no doubt, but it all relies on the angle at which the person on the rudder can hold course to. If they fall off the course by even a little bit, then both the other sails need to be trimmed ever so slightly to get the most out of the wind, especially when the Utah evening winds all but stopped on all four of our lessons.
The culmination of our lessons was on the fourth, and final, night. After a bit of sailing, the win completely stopped. Dead, I mean nothing at all for about 15 minutes. As we were ready to throw in the towel, a slight breeze picked up, and turned into full on steady wind. And with that wind, we could actually sail fully upwind and get the boat to keel over as we sailed on a close haul. We were actually having to hike out (leaning off the windward side of the boat) to counter the force of the wind on the sails. This was actually sailing to me! We were only moving at 6-8 knots, but we covered more water in the last hour of sailing on our fourth lesson then we did in the other three lessons combined. We tacked and jibed over and over again, rotating positions, and just enjoying all of it!
After the four lessons, with three different sailing instructors, we were hooked. We can’t wait to be able to rent a boat of our own to sail around all day and go where we want to go. Even more-so, eventually get good enough to sail from island to island, one day, in the Caribbean like our friend Hayden and Radeen.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.