Born to sail is a range of interviews with people who love boating and sailing. You will discover about their first experience on a boat, favorite sailing locations, tips, and suggestions. I interviewed Ron Spoelstra in order to learn about his passion for sailing which started 40 years ago.
What is your favorite type of boat?
How many days do you sail per year?
Approximately 105 days.
What is your first memory of being on board of the boat?
My father had a very small plastic boat with a small sail. It was the size of a dining table. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I took the boat with the purpose of running away from him to a small island nearby, without any sailing lessons! I had to learn it the hard way, all by myself. It was around 40 years ago.
What is your favorite sailing location in the World? Why is it your favorite location?
Greece. I love Greek food, their mentality, the beautiful white houses, blue sea, and many other things. Greek people like to paint everything white. Besides the white houses, if there is a tree on the way, they will paint it too. I love such an approach. I try to go there once a year, but it is not nearly enough.
Tell us about your best sailing trip.
Actually, it was in Greece. To be more specific it was the trip from Turkey to Greece when a client asked us to bring his boat back. We had to bring it up to the North. It was storming all the time, and the wind was always against us. The weather was really bad, and we had to sail during the night. At some point, we saw a huge submarine coming out in the middle of the sea and lots of fish were jumping in the moonlight. I’ll never forget this trip.
My other favorite trip was with Anne (co-founder of Tubber) when we didn’t know much about Greece. We went from bay to bay, and we were discovering new places and small islands.
What is your opinion on drinking on board? What is your favorite drink while boating?
I don’t drink during sailing, but I love to finish my sailing trip with an excellent drink.
What is your advice for beginners?
Actually, sailing boats are much safer than motor boats. Motor boats can flip on a high wave and stay upside down. Even if a sailing boat flips, it will always come back. Simply go to a sailing school to learn how to sail, don’t stress on board, start with practicing on small lakes and later go for bigger ones. When you sail with a team, keep talking to each other and don’t panic. I always discuss with my team about our sailing strategy before going on the water. It is an enjoyable activity for team building. If you have a company, there is no need for job interviews. Just take people on board and within 10 minutes you will see who is on board.
What other sailors could learn from you?
No matter what happens on board try to stay calm and don’t panic. Take your time for finding solutions, keep thinking and always look around. If you are sailing with others, show them that everything is under control and you are aware of what is going on board. During my last trip, the boat made a wrong maneuver and I heard people screaming “Ron help us…” while I was sleeping. My immediate reaction to my friends was “It is not the best way to wake me up, but lets see what is going on.”
Are there any rules or traditions on board of your boat?
When people sail with my boat, we try to see who sails fastest and reaches double digits quicker. In general, as long as people are happy, I am happy. Also before sailing, we discuss how we should sail. If there is a storm we discuss alternatives. I always teach other people how to use the radio and tell the position of the boat in case something happens to me. I guess my main rule is, as long as I am on board we are safe.
What would you sacrifice to sail all year long?
I would sell my car, house and leave my job to sail for a long time. I am sure I will do it within the next couple of years in the Caribbean. I would go with an open end, place my boat somewhere and stay there as long I want. There are so many beautiful places in the world. There is more than Europe.
Describe in 3 words your outlook on spending free time on the water?
Sailing means having no stress. It is an excellent way to get away from the internet. When I have lots of stress at work, I go sailing for a week, and I come back with a million ideas and lots of energy.
If you could design your ideal boat what 3 elements/features would you add to it?
I would like to be able to adjust the depth of the keel. It will allow me to sail on deep and low water. I would like to have a deck saloon, to enjoy the beautiful panorama view on the sea and my boat should be fast to make double digits. The fun starts after my boat goes over 10 knots.