Imagine gliding across the water in a sleek sailboat. The spray from the bow of your boat hits your face, cooling you off on a hot summer day. Up ahead, you see the boat leading the race. Suddenly, your sail catches a sharp gust of wind and you cruise forward even faster. You're catching up& but is there enough time for you to reach the leader before the finish line?
It's scenes like this that make competitive sailing one of the most exhilarating sports on the water.
Yachting: Competitive sailing is often called yachting. Mankind has likely been sailing on the water since pre-historic times, but it is believed that the first organized sailing races took place in the Netherlands in the 1600s. That makes it one of the oldest sports in the world!
Open Water Racing: This is one of the most extreme styles of sailboat racing. Races usually take place in the ocean and cover great areas. One of the most famous American open water races is the Bermuda Race, which covers over 600 miles from Newport, Rhode Island to the island of Bermuda. The longest open water races go all the way around the world! An event known as the Clipper Round the World Race is one of the most famous of these races. It starts in England and makes stops in places like Hawaii, China, South Africa and Central America.
Harbor Racing: Of course, not every sailing race goes all the way around the world. Most are much shorter, and sailors of all skill level take part. Harbor racing is a style of competitive sailing that takes place in lakes, rivers, bays or other bodies of water that are closer to shore. Sailing races that are held during the Olympics are typically harbor races.
America's Cup: The most famous sailing race in the world is the America's Cup. It started in 1851, when an American captain took his boat over to England and raced some of the fastest ships in Europe, beating them all. The America's Cup trophy was created in 1857 and still exists today. Members of the winning boat can hold on to the trophy until another country challenges them to a race and beats them. The United States kept the trophy from 1851 until 1983, when an Australian team made the first successful challenge of the Cup. It ended the longest winning streak in all of sports - 132 years!
Teamwork: There are many important aspects of competitive sailing - a solid boat design and the ability to catch the wind and sail fast are two of them. However, nothing is more important than teamwork. Without everybody on the crew working together and following the lead of the captain, the boat won't go anywhere! Everybody on the crew has to work hard and do their part to make sure the boat does what it is supposed to do.
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