Originally self-taught, unless you count an 'ashore lesson' in windsurfing theory.
I spent a lot of time in Canoes and rowboats as a kid, then windsurfers, and after a summer with my step-father's power tender, saved up and bought a 14' runabout with a 50hp. My step-father had a 20' Cygnus and my brother picked up a Catamaran, which he frequently dragged me out on as moveable ballast. Summers working on the water got me playing around with Sunfish and Lasers. I got to make all of the serious mistakes in these boats. Ate lots of water at this stage. When I began working at summer resorts in my late teens, it wasn't long before I was sailing in storms, and shortly thereafter, assigned to run the waterfront. I did have mentorship along the way, mind you from friends who were very good sailors, including one buddy whose brothers were competing in the Olympics as a team; he coached a provincial windsurfing team and was a very talented racer. I eventually
wound up teaching sailing at the resorts I worked at, on sunfish, lasers, and a 20' Cygnus identical to the one my family had owned.
Later, I got into the racing scene in the Okanagan Valley, mostly on a 24' Hinterholler Shark (though I crewed on almost every boat in each fleet), and that's when I started doing a lot of reading to become more competitive.
Many more years of putzing about in anything with a sail in Vancouver, BC; Lasers, Laser II's, Hobie Cats, 29ers, 49ers, anything fast and fun. Then I got into a smaller keelboat in Washington State (a Haida 26') and a few years of cruising extensively before purchasing my current boat (a Lancer 36'), then taking stacks of courses and becoming a professional sailing instructor. I still learn something pretty much every time I sail.
Last edited by SeaLifeSailing; 05-25-2011 at 05:13 AM.