And then I was forced to wonder: Is sailing actually an art?
According to Wikipedia, which knows everything, “Art is something that stimulates an individual’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs or ideas through the senses.”
Unfortunately, that definition is far too loose to be useful. After all, the appearance of a pretty girl may stimulate a young man’s thoughts and emotions, but one would hesitate to call the result “art.”
We often hear mention of the art of gardening, knitting, floral arrangement and so on. Until the 17th century, an art was any human skill or mastery, but in later years the grand arts were separated for special treatment, and it was held that no life was complete unless its possessor had a true passion for one of them: music, painting, ballet, literature, opera, sculpture, drama, architecture, and the likes.
Many of us have harbored a passion for sailing, often at the cost of neglecting the grand arts altogether, but I wonder how many have ever associated the act of sailing with art? And yet, when to you come examine it more closely, there could be a case for such a designation.
There is undoubtedly flowing art in the lines of a yacht lifted from the naval architect’s drawing board. Photographs by Beken of Cowes of the great racing yachts under a full press of sail lack nothing in that category either.
I sometimes think that art is something that makes you halt in your tracks, and this often happens to me when I see a handsome hull in a pretty anchorage. And what can it be that makes so many of us stop and turn around for a last look after we have safely berthed a boat and walked away?
And then there is sailing itself. The curve of a sail in a breeze is art. The steeve of a bowsprit and the sheer of a bulwark is art. The angle by which the mizzen mast of a ketch drifts aft from the vertical, compared with the mainmast, is art, and the human eye is offended if the two masts are wrongly parallel.
No one with a soul can deny there is art in the foaming wake of a sailboat at sea. Even the shivering rectangle of the ensign that so stirs our national pride surely qualifies as art.
And finally, we come to the real proof. We know that true artists have to suffer for their art.
And we do. I surely don’t need to tell you how.
The role of art is to make a world which can be inhabited.— William Saroyan
TailpieceA drama critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned. — George Bernard Shaw
A tanning booth is a place where no stern is left untoned. — John Vigor
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