In late 2016, Allan Haeger had a vision. It came to him as a result of having only started the sport of Racing Sailing at age 50 or so. By 2016, he had spent two decades studying whatever sailing education materials that he could get his hands on and quizzing sailors after a race or regatta to pick up secrets to winning. It was hard, sometimes frustrating work. He read Dr. Stuart H. Walker’s books which shared incredible knowledge, but could be so hard to digest. He read Buddy Melges, Dave Dellenbaugh, Dave Perry, Gordy Bowers, Mike Ingham and so many others’ works to help plant Aha Insights into his brain. Allan came from a highly competitive sailing family, despite his own lack of sailing experience, and one of them amazed us all by making it to the Olympic Games in Rio. …but Al needed to find his own path to understanding and winning.
Lake Beulah Yacht Club & ILYA
Al Haeger raced with the Lake Beulah Yacht Club in East Troy, WI, as did I. It has a large and highly competitive Melges MC Scow fleet filled with champion, midwestern sailors in the Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) and experts in Opti, MC Scow, C Scow, E Scow, A Scow and the Racing Rules of Sailing. He asked questions regularly. Al helped out a lot too. He helped with the Lake Beulah Sailing School and later with the ILYA sailing directors. Al took new sailors out to practice or to compare tuning or handling. He helped on the water, at the dock and in the kitchen for regattas and dinners. He was even awarded the 2022 John Hunt Memorial Trophy for ILYA Member of the Year last year in recognition of those efforts.
Recently, Al joined the Lake Eustis Sailing Club and energetically joined his winter friends, racing, running events and all the things that he was known for in the Midwest.
A Vision & Partnership
So, Al Haeger had a vision. He came to me in 2016 and asked if I would help him to build a sailing education website. It would be a convenient resource for mid-fleet sailors such as himself to find the best learning available and to become more competitive in the sport. It would include simplified versions of the complex concepts that he had encountered – sail trim, draft, camber, ladder rungs, apparent wind… I thought, there are so many big budget sailing websites out there…how could we add to that? What I found out, and what Al already knew, is that it’s a real chore to find the learning and even harder to digest it.
We started by building the framework of what we would cover – sailing fundamentals, preparation, sailing faster, sailing smarter, local lake knowledge, rules and safety, and equipment resources. We built detailed hierarchies below those as placeholders – a taxonomy, if you like, that we would fill in over time. To cover costs, we began to offer a few products so that we could keep advertising (the standard way of funding a web resource) to a minimum. It was a strict rule that most of the site would be paywall free. Struggling sailors often don’t have a lot of time, but they also don’t spend much money on learning. They would rather buy a new sail or go to a regatta.
Many fresh-baked cookies were delivered to us at SailZing LLC HQ to help us during those long hours formulating SailZing.com.
6 Years Later
Here we are 6 years later. Hundreds of articles, 10’s of thousands of monthly visitors, a thriving YouTube channel with over 5.4 million minutes watched, an amazing relationship with the ILYA, an unfathomable amount of expert sailor input throughout SailZing.com, a familiar and respected brand.
Pictured – clockwise from left: Bill Hudson, Chris Kubicek, John Porter, Rob Hudson, Allan Haeger, Jeff Lippert and Steve Rotier.
Well Done, Allan Haeger
We lost Al on Friday, February 10, 2023. He was my friend, my able competitor, my business partner and in many ways…my role model. After retiring in 2017, he could have lived quietly, but he chose to live large in helping others down the path that he still journeyed. Along the way, he gained SO MANY other friends who now feel an Allan-shaped hole in their lives. While he has left a loving wife and family, and numerous friends still hoping for a good ol’ chat about how the race went and why, he has also built a living legacy in SailZing.com. The site was always about Sailors Helping Sailors. As long as there are some sailors out there willing to share their knowledge to help the ones nipping at their heels to get better, SailZing.com will be there, complete with Al’s voice explaining how to shape a sail.
If you would like to help to build on Al’s living legacy, find out what topic SailZing.com hasn’t covered yet (or missed a spot) and contribute an article to mail@SailZing.com.
Rest easy, my friend. You finished this race in the lead.