Hugh Patterson Biography

(Posts by Hugh)

My sailing career began even before birth. While still in my mother’s womb, I made numerous crossings of Georgia Straight in a homemade 21’ plywood boat. Once breathing on my own, I was quickly bundled up in a lifejacket and was assigned the task of movable ballast, a position I still occupy today on certain local race boats.

While other families would to take exotic vacations to Hawaii, every summer my parents packed up the kids and the boat and went cruising in the Gulf Island’s of British Columbia. During my teenage years these family vacations grew shorter, and eventually ended. Few teenagers relish the thought of being stuck on a boat with their family, and I was not one of them. What I didn’t realize then is how those early summer trips had shaped me and would be so valuable later on.

After I entered university, the family vacations were replaced by weekend sailing trips with friends. What was an arduous chore with parents became a treasured escape with friends. My experience cruising early on gave me (and my father) the confidence to safely pilot the boat in the waters off Vancouver.

Summers of cruising gave me the skills to safely pilot a boat in the rocky passages and shallow anchorages, but didn’t teach me how to get the most out of the sails and wind. To learn more, Ryan and I both began day racing a locally design 24’ keel boat and some crewing on larger boats. This was when I learned how little I knew about the sailing part of sailing. Sail trim, boat speed, wind shifts, and tactics are still mostly gibberish to me, but slowly I’m learning what it takes to go fast.

It was also during university that I first got in the water to surf. While studying Engineering in Victoria, on Vancouver Island’s southern tip, I met Ryan Robertson. Ryan convinced me that driving an hour and a half to surf in the frigid waters at Sombrio Beach was a worthy endeavor, and a great way to ditch class to blow off some steam. Even after my first session of bobbing in water and getting pitched over the falls, I knew I’d be back soon. However it took a month of warm water surfing in Mexico to reach a level where I could call myself a beginner; a point where I still comfortably reside. One of the biggest motivators for me to realize our sail to surf dream is chance to take my surfing to the next level – intermediate!

Some highlights of my sailing career include:
– Failing White Sail III at age eight (reason: cried when hit in the head by the boom)
– On one particularly rough day, I didn’t head my Dad’s advice and walked down the companionway forwards. I still sport the scar to this day where I cracked my head on the last step.
– VHF operator’s license
– HF Radio Operators Licence, w’ HAM (and 5 wpm Morse Code)