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“There had been something elemental and all consuming about a Sunfish. Nothing could compare to the exhilaration of a close race in a real blow—the wind howling and spray flying as my Sunfish and I punched through the waves to the finish.”
In the spring of 1992, Nat Philbrick was in his late thirties, living with his family on Nantucket, feeling stranded and longing for that thrill of victory he once felt after winning a national sailing championship in his youth. Was it a midlife crisis? It was certainly a watershed for the journalist-turned-stay-at-home dad, who impulsively decided to throw his hat into the ring, or water, again.
With the bemused approval of his wife and children, Philbrick used the off-season on the island as his solitary training ground, sailing his tiny Sunfish to its remotest corners, experiencing the haunting beauty of its tidal creeks, inlets, and wave-battered sandbars. On ponds, bays, rivers, and finally at the championship on a lake in the heartland of America, he sailed through storms and memories, racing for the prize, but finding something unexpected about himself instead.