The Joys and Headaches of Double-handed Sailing

Sailing a double handed boat is an absolute thrill. But it has its drawbacks as well. Read on as I discuss the joys and headaches of double-handed sailing.

David at MYC


I love sailing. It is my entire life and is the motivation for pretty much everything I do. From the first time I climbed into my first Optimist Dinghy at age 8, I knew that I was at home on the sea.

Now that I am a bit older and having spent more than half of my life sailing competitively, I am renewed in my joy of sailing. High performance sailing is extreme.  The speed at which you sail, the amount of information you have to process in no-time flat and the decision making that has to be done within a split second are all reasons to love this segment of our sport. Sailing at a level where I am competing for the single position on the US Team for the 2016 Olympics makes it even more of a thrill.  There are indeed some challenges.

While physically and mentally I have found that I am consistently challenged to excel beyond what I believe possible, it is the emotional component that was unforeseen and probably the biggest obstacle in the way of any teams success in training for the US Team. I have found it particularly difficult at seemingly simple things like finding the right person to sail with.  There are many components that go into finding the perfect person to sail in an Olympic campaign with, you have to get along, you both have to have the same goals, you have to have compatible schedules and need to be able to train in the same location together.  And this is just the simple stuff!

When I decided to campaign for the Games in Rio, I made the decision to fully commit myself to achieving my goal of winning Gold!  I figured it was quite simple, if you want to be a champion, then that is what must drive you and be the reason you wake up every morning and why you go to bed every night. Quite simply if you want to be on the top, nothing can be more important.  In making this decision, I chose to neglect a big part of my youth to be able to train full-time to win.

Now I am not suggesting that I will feel like a failure if I do not achieve my ultimate goal, but I have committed my life to doing everything possible to achieve it. I am leaving nothing on the table, I’m all in! In the end, I will see if my all is good enough, but I can tell you that I know it is.


So finding a partner to sail with has its difficulties because I have to find someone that is of like mind.  And in this class, I have to sail with a woman, so I need a woman that will stop at nothing to win. Someone that will go to bed every night knowing that she gave 100% of herself physically, mentally and emotionally to being the best she can be and knowing that I am doing the same, that we gave 100% to be the best team in the world!

Over the past several months, I have talked with a lot of women. Women of all ages, looking for someone that wanted to sail a NACRA17, wanted to work hard, give her all to the single goal of being the best she and we can be every day, for the next four years! While I know this is not a gender specific issue at all, I have found that many people…most people in fact either do not want to, can not or will not believe that they have it in themselves to be a champion. Or maybe they just don’t want to find out.

People decide that school, work, friends, shopping, life, parties, just about anything can be more or as important as winning in the game of sailing. I am not saying that they are bad people, or that anything is wrong with putting other things above sport; I am looking for a woman that is of like mind. Someone that knows she can be the best of the best and who knows that all it takes is a lot of incredibly hard work and dedication and this will be realized in front of the entire world!


I have found myself a little discouraged at what I have (or have not) found to this point and I know that every day that passes makes my challenge a little more difficult, but I know that the perfect partner is out there, and that we will soon climb aboard my NACRA17 and find out that the speed of victory is thrilling enough to get us through the difficult days and drive us to keep giving our best to become the strongest, smartest, most active team both in the USA and around the Globe. Then we will sail into the Harbor of Copacabana knowing that our Gold medal is so much more than just a symbol, it is the realization of our years of dedication and effort…it will be proof that anyone that sets their mind to something and does not loose focus along the way can accomplish anything!