From Katie Burns, the Quantum Sails Live the Dream contest winner…

I’ve been sitting on my couch staring at my computer screen for a while now, fighting off the jet lag to give linguistic justice to my experience sailing with Quantum in Portugal over the last ten days. The problem is that there is so much to say, I hardly know how to begin. So, I’m just going to quickly stress a few key points in rudimentary illustration of how I, a rookie, fared in my first professional racing circuit.

Firstly, if not stressed yet, I want to thank everyone who has trained me and encouraged me in this sport. One can never know enough on a sailboat; I suspect I’ll be a student on the water for a very long time. That’s ok though – wind patterns and sail trim are a lot more interesting than verb conjugations and differential equations, anyways.

The MedCup Circuit was a great venue to get immersed into the world of professional sailboat racing. The only better conduit for such a thing, I think, was the reception of me by the Quantum Racing crew, both on and off the boat. In retrospect, it is so funny to me that on my first day with the crew, I was so self-conscious working with the team that I could barely tie a slip knot. I was self-conscious of my lack of skill; I hate anyone seeing me in weakness or inability, so it would only be me who would fumble over a simple knot while world class athletes looked on. However, my first sail on the boat eased my anxiety; after all, sailing is a sport, a competition, and I can do at least that much. It didn’t take me long to nail those slip knots after my first day out, anyways.

There are so many aspects of the regatta I’d love to write about, but I’m going to have to save it as a project for this week as the jet lag wears off, the bruises heal, and my new shorts tan line fades. One of the more common questions I’ve been asked over the past few days is, “What’s next for Katie Burns?” Well, school starts this week and I’ll be back racing on the Chesapeake Bay shortly. I suspect I will greatly miss the Army; the drive, the unity, the adrenaline rushes, the missions, the discipline, the strength, the respect, the thrill. However, I feel these are all ideals I can bring with me to sailing. They might be a little overly reinforced after 6 years and a tour to the desert, but it’s all I have right now and it has seemingly worked so far. I suppose I’ll have to work on things like charm and poise at some point in my life, but that’s neither here nor there, I guess.

Oh, did I mention how FREAKING AWESOME it was sailing with Quantum Racing on the TP-52? I imagine I’ll have an entire piece dedicated to what it is like to sail with such a program, but for now, know that I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity. Everyone wants to know what it is like to sail with Terry Hutchinson. Right now, all I have the energy to write is that I’d like to be around when he teaches his daughter how to drive a car for the first time. He’s a great mentor, patient and instructive in teaching. That being said, he’s also a great leader with a lot of discipline, so I do NOT want to be around when his daughter tries to sneak the car out of the driveway for the first time. Katie.