If you follow me on social media, or read my blog post about how sailing improved my mental health, you have probably heard me talk about this wonderful woman on many occasions. I have said it before and I will say it again; Diana Augspurger is the reason I got into sailing in Buffalo. This time around, it is time for me to share her story.
Diana is a past commodore of the Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club and is the head of the Discover Buffalo Sailing program. There is a stereotype that sailing is for the ‘hoity-toity’, due in part to its large expense. Even when I developed a taste for sailing years ago while living in Boston, it was hard to get into unless you knew someone with a boat or were willing to shell out close to $1,000 in lessons or club memberships.
Thanks to Diana, and a massive group of kind-hearted sailors, the Discover Buffalo Sailing program makes sailing accessible to all at an insanely affordable price. As if that isn’t impressive enough, I recently learned that according to US Sailing, the Discover Buffalo Sailing program is the ONLY program of its kind in the United States. While other clubs around the country have tried to implement similar programs, they were not able to generate the interest that the Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club does each year.
I feel so lucky to be able to learn from Diana on a weekly basis aboard Republic. One of the best parts about the sailing community is the lifelong friendships you gain along the way.
When did you first get into sailing?
I was a late bloomer, 46 when I finally got around to taking a few lessons after years of talking about it. Funny how losing a sibling can make you stop and take stock of how you spend your time. It’s now been about 20 yrs. since I started and yet, there is still so much to learn.
Tell me a bit about your boat, S/V Republic, and what specifications you were looking for when purchasing a boat?
I found Republic through a broker/dealer. I wanted a boat that would race well but still have some creature comforts such as a head and comfortable berths. It needed to be really clean, no mold and overall well cared for. I also wanted a tiller and some technical controls that would challenge me. When I found Republic, the broker told me she was a very technical boat and perhaps I was a little over my head. He didn’t know that I desired that challenge. It was a bonus that she had a good sail inventory.
Which do you prefer; racing, cruising or both? And why?
I might feel differently if I was in the Caribbean but with few real destinations, I like racing. It allows me to get a lot of use from my boat and sail with a purpose. It’s no small thing that I have developed camaraderie with my crew either. The teamwork creates strong relationships that I truly value.
If you could give someone one piece of racing advice, what would it be?
Be patient and persistent. It takes a long time to build the knowledge bank to do well especially against seasoned sailors. Read a lot, ask a lot of questions, sail outside your area and enlist the help of those willing to mentor. Lastly, be sure all your equipment is always in good working order. Nothing breaks in 5kts of breeze. It always breaks when you need it most, in heavy weather.