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Summersville Lake will host the annual Mountain Mama Hospice Regatta the weekend of Aug. 21-22, 2021.

Have you ever had a dream that you could fly?

You may recall the kind of dream that I’m writing about. One where you are running through a field or down a rutted, desolate dirt road. Your feet are hitting the ground at a fast pace, your arms are pumping and your heart is beating wildly, you spread your arms and in an instant your whole body becomes airborne as you soar across the sky. Suddenly you relax as you move through the air and all you feel is peace as you look at the earth far below. I have read that only during the happiest times in our lives do we have dreams that we can fly.

I used to have a thought that I might eventually learn to pilot planes. But that seemed even too risky a hobby for me. It felt too mechanical, too high up in the air, landing sounded scary … what if I over-shot the runway or — worse — made a hard landing. In my mind, I always thought that there were too many things that could go wrong and I wanted my airborne experiences to feel exhilarating yet not frightening.

So instead, I discovered sailing.

Did you know that sailing is like flying? Sailboats have a sail and a keel that perform similarly to the two wings on a plane. Winds pass over and fill the sail, which in turn cause lift, which then allows the boat to move forward. Voila! You are sailing on water ... and if you go fast enough you are skirting through the water and if you move faster, you almost feel as if you are flying.

I first discovered Sewell Mountain Sailing Association through a friend that understood my deep love of the water. Those that know me well know that anywhere near any body of water is my favorite place to be and when I heard about this sailing club I knew that I had to join.

Sewell Mountain Sailing Association was founded by Bob Richards, a native of California and a life-long sailor with the same degree of saltiness that you would find in the oceans he loves so much. He moved from California to West Virginia on a whim to buy the family property that he fell in love with, but he couldn’t come to our beautiful state without finding a way to share his passion for the water. He dug a pond in his backyard, incorporated a small nonprofit that is now the SMSA, and began teaching a Basics of Sailing Class that he offers at no charge to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.

His yard is like a boneyard for boats that he is constantly rotating in and out for repairs, rehabs and reconstruction. Many of the boats he has acquired he sells to members of the club because his philosophy is that everyone who has the desire to sail should have their own boat, learn how to sail it and learn how to care for it. Witnessing the twinkle in this eye as he talks about his members who have become friends and family is a testament to the passion and love that he has for this sport.

Richards is well-known for his devotion to the well-being of others, and this kindness is displayed in the annual Mountain Mama Hospice Regatta that will be held on Summersville Lake the weekend of Aug. 21-22, 2021. All funds raised during this weekend are donated to benefit those that are in the care of Hospice of Southern West Virginia. There will be children’s activities, live music and food. But the most glorious part is witnessing an event that is unusual to find in the mountains of West Virginia on a lake that is predominately packed with motor boats … on this particular weekend you will find a lake that is filled with the brilliant colors and the sounds of sails flapping in the wind and the gentleness of the breezes pushing the boats through the water. It really is a beautiful and memorable sight to see.

I’ll be there. I’ll be right there standing on the front of my boat as the wind whips past me, searching for the cloth that will create the force that will push me through the water. I’ll stand on the fore of my boat with my eyes closed, feeling the boat underneath my feet as I soar through the water … almost as if I am flying.

If you would like to become involved in Sewell Mountain Sailing Association, or if you have questions about events or the Basics of Sailing class, you can find the club on Facebook or visit their website at smsawv.org.

Beth Kyle works in Charleston and can be reached by email at taraczkozy@cs.com.

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