When I was 7 I learned how to sail on the Great South Bay - about 50 miles east of New York City located between the South Shore of Long Island and Fire Island.
The Bay was great. From pretty much anywhere you could see across to Fire Island. There was an annual Cross Bay Swim, and if you knew where to anchor, you could hop out and clam with your feet. During the summer a good 12-15 knots out of the southwest was something you could count on. It made for great racing. It was our world. It was the best place ever to sail. Lakes? I don't think so.
A couple of years ago I met Chris Smith at the Bitter End Yacht Club Pro-Am. I found out he was from Arizona and had a J80. "So where do you sail ?" I asked. Arizona is desert and has no water.
ON THE LAKE - he said - as if to say "where else would I be sailing?"
This guitar-playing, photo-taking lawyer had to be kidding, but he wasn't. It seems there is an Arizona Yacht Club with 220 members who race on Lake Pleasant and Tempe Town Lake.
Chris told me he was introduced to sailing in 1988 on the Chesapeake, and he'd gone to UMASS. But it wasn't until he went to JWorld San Diego in 2005 that he learned how to sail. The rest is history.
Chris has the bug bad - his J80 is at Lake Pleasant, 150 miles from his home in Tucson. Sometimes he'll trailer his Sunfish to the office and head to Silverbell (read POND) for a sunset sail before heading home. But he works sailing into his business travel - chartering boats and sailing with friends from San Diego to Chicago to New York, Boston and the Cape/Islands. Somehow he manages to be on the water 100+ days a year. I totally understand.
Of course I know there are other places to sail … there's a whole bunch of people who sail in Chicago on THAT lake. But Arizona - that was a stretch. I have to go there and see for myself. And someday I will.