Last year I was at a wedding of an old friend from high school. Near the end of the night, when the bustle of the evening started to ebb and we had a chance to catch up, he slung an arm around me and said, “Lydia, I’m so proud of you. You are the only person I know who’s doing exactly what they’re meant to be doing with their life.”
Sometimes in the day-to-day rush of answering emails, attending virtual meetings, and researching articles, (plus the solitary monotony of doing it all from my tiny bedroom-cum-office) it’s easy to forget that not so long ago, this was a dream to me. As a teenager, I had this whole career plan of how I was going to get here. My big goal was to be a marine journalist by the time I turned 35.
Imagine my surprise when, at 23, I got an email from SAIL’s former Editor-in-Chief Peter Nielsen asking me if I’d like to apply for a job.
Five years ago tomorrow, I began working at SAIL. I think I write this every year, but it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. As with any job, there are good days and bad days, but I can’t overstate how much of a joy it is to write for this magazine, interact with our readers, and most of all, sail some amazing boats. As my friend said, I truly do feel like this is what I’m meant to be doing.
To celebrate my five-year anniversary, here are five of my favorite moments from this past year.
Last summer I spent a day with the 11th Hour Racing Team crew in Newport, hearing about their Ocean Race campaign and sailing aboard Mālama. Anyone who knows me knows that my absolute favorite sailing event is The Ocean Race, and when Charlie Enright turned to me and asked if I wanted a turn at the helm, I literally felt my heart stutter. I wasn’t trying to smile for Amory Ross’ camera here; I just could not get my face to do anything else.
Seeing the words “Editor-in-Chief” next to my name for the first time.
Last fall we came out with our first issue of Multihull Power & Sail, of which I am the editor-in- chief. Any time you launch a new publication, there are going to be growing pains, but it was so much fun to build something from scratch and collaborate with the Power & Motoryacht team. We’re already working on the 2023 spring/summer issue, and I’m excited to share it with you all in a few short months.
30 Knots Helming Sails of Change.
I spent a few days last autumn in a tiny village in the west of France visiting with the Spindrift team just before the start of their Jules Verne standby window (look for the story in our May issue). The team is waiting on the right weather to kick off an attempt at breaking the circumnavigation record (currently set at a little over 39 days). Sails of Change is the world’s largest sailing trimaran, and onboard, it feels like it. While at the helm, my eyes were burning with tears (from the wind, mostly) when skipper Yann Guichard, who’d been offering me advice, gestured at one of the instruments. I guess I took too long blinking my vision clear because he clarified, “Lydia, look, you are going 30 knots.” What a rush.
Sometimes you need to slow down the pace, and I found that little bit of peace aboard the Corwith Cramer last spring (catch the whole story, “Centered at Sea,” in the upcoming March issue). I have a love-hate relationship with night watches, but you can’t argue with the fact that there’s nothing like long hours of gazing into the night to quiet your mind. While keeping vigil in the small hours of the morning on the Corwith Cramer, I watched a lone shooting star tumble down from the constellations off the port beam. There was no fanfare, no one else to see it, even, but the quiet majesty of being out in nature, sailing one of the last truly wild frontiers, touched me.
Breaking it down for beginners.
Our new web series, Racing Recaps, is a project I’ve wanted to do since before I started with SAIL. Sailing requires speaking a whole different language, between the terminology, weird nicknames, and gear that laymen have no idea even exists. I had this idea of doing an “intro to pro racing” explainer during the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, and it’s crazy that it’s finally happening more than five years later. We’re having so much fun putting the show together and welcoming new folks into the world of professional racing. You can catch the first installment here.
My job has changed a lot over the years, and this past year in particular. Sometimes you get headed, sometimes you get lifted. But to borrow from Orleans, I’m still having fun and it’s still the one.