Last spring we received a note from a friend at Eastport YC that began, "While drinking rum at the EYC, I met this guy from Virginia..." True, we've heard a few stories that started that way, but this one was particularly interesting. It continued, "He started to sail after reading the Start Sailing Now guide, and now he sails all the time!"
We caught up with Kurt Abendschein shortly thereafter and asked him a series of questions.
Can you tell us about how you got into sailing?
I was reading the Horatio Hornblower novels and a couple of biographies of notable British and American sailing legends. Around that time, a good friend invited me to sail on his Sabre 402. Having a good time as a passenger, I wanted to learn more, so I picked up a copy of SpinSheet and found the online resource at spinsheet.com for boats and crew. Through the website, I contacted a J/105 Association, and a guy named Pete with a Hunter 37. I was picked up as foredeck crew on a boat named Zephyr, and Pete also invited me to race with him.
What surprised you about the sport?
I was surprised with how exhilarating and peaceful the sport could be. I was also surprised at how friendly and eager to teach sailors were.
Did you have any preconceived notions about sailing that proved true or untrue?
I don’t think I had too many pre-conceived notions about sailing. Other than the books on 18th century naval warfare I had read, I really had no idea what to expect.
What has been your sailing experience thus far and/or your future plans?
For a few years after I started, I was a regular bowman on Zephyr racing in most of the J/105 fleet races including a couple of NOOD Regattas and a championship race in 2007 or 2008. I also continued to race and cruise with Pete on a regular basis. He taught me most everything I know about sailing and is a very close friend. Through him and the J/105s, I met other sailors who invited me to race and cruise as well as doing a delivery to Newport.
In 2008-09, with help of some of the friends I made, I was able to organize a few day trips for members of the Marine Wounded Warrior Regiment (WWR). In 2010, I joined the Tiller Club of the Chesapeake Sailing School, which allowed me to sail almost every weekend on their Tanzer 22s. Soon afterward, I became an instructor at the school until they went out of business in 2013.
Many of the sailors I have met are very dear friends. For the future, I hope to get my own boat soon as well as continue sailing with my Annapolis friends in the Caribbean. I am also planning another outing with the WWR with as many skippers and participants as I can muster.
If someone were interested in trying sailing, what would you encourage him or her to do?
I would encourage anyone interested in sailing to check out Start Sailing Now (startsailingnow.com), visit the boat/crew website to find a boat as well as attend some of the fun events listed in SpinSheet.