Racing the Wind

A longtime competitive sailor from Newport News joined his wife on Day 3 of the WALT sailing class. It had been a while since Grayson Williams had taken the wheel, racing the wind. “It feels great,” he said while heeling the boat to 20 degrees while tacking up the York River.

“My most memorable race was one that I didn’t win. I was talking to my minister one day about a big committee issue, and he wanted to resume the meeting on Sunday. I told him I couldn’t make it because that was the second day of a weekend sailing series. We held two races on Saturday and the third race on Sunday. He was appalled. ‘You mean you’re going to do THAT on a Sunday, on the Sabbath?’ he said. I replied yes. He said he was determined to fetch me and bring me to the meeting. I told him, “Well, you better be prepared to walk on water because I’ll be out on the Elizabeth River.

Racing the Wind“What was memorable was the race on Sunday. For some unknown reason my mainsail ripped and was torn asunder. We had to retire from the race, and it was the first time that season that I didn’t win, place or show to take a trophy.”

Did the minister lord it over him? “No, he didn’t. He went on to become a major figure in the Presbyterian Church.”

I asked Grayson if he had been sailing since the 1940s. His eyes twinkled. “More like the 1930s.”

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