I liked it.
"First, the physics: We rig a sleek, lightweight canoe with enormous wings, some that face up into the sky and some that face down into the sea. We listen to our senses and nature’s cues. We point things in roughly the right direction and are always awed when pure, free, invisible solar power grants us forward motion. Impressive speeds require tiny bits of energy, and sailboats use what they get very efficiently, leaving absolutely no waste or wake.
It is an engineering marvel; a scheme to trick water and air to cooperate to give motion. So good that it approaches the possibility of perpetual motion. Tuned right, a sailboat can go on forever. Set the sails, lock the tiller and stand down. Some cross oceans this way.
But a sailboat needs people to go well, and then it seems to take life. Small adjustments and constant care from teams return comfort, safety and speed.
And so the psychology: The sailor at the helm feels both directed by nature and, for a time, an anointed director of a privileged natural state. Sailors seek what they call “a groove” -- a few moments or occasionally hours where the boat is precisely balanced and the driver's concentration follows only water and wind.
On bigger boats sailed by groups, the groove only comes when the boat and the team are in perfect balance. Through their work, a sailboat’s passengers share rich, lasting emotional connections on par with the mingling of singers in a gospel choir or players in a jazz quartet. It is no coincidence that jazz players also seek a “groove,” a mix of rhythm, melody and riff that falls into place, and feels right, then and there. Once sailors or jazz musicians find their groove they are almost certainly addicted. It can be organic, mystical, erotic, magical and musical all at once...."
By Nicholas D. Hayes
Copyright 2009 Nicholas D. Hayes, All rights reserved.