A Sailor’s Journey of Opportunity and Self Discovery


Photo by: Will Ranger

Sailing teaches perseverance and confidence, which are skills that are tested when things get rough.

Will Ranger, Student of Journalism

What starts as a whim to fulfill a gym credit at college quickly becomes a lifelong sport for math teacher Wendy Hermans. The sport is sailing, an activity that shapes and impacts Hermans’ life in countless ways. 

In 1989, Hermans is a student at UW-Oshkosh. To finally graduate, she needs a half credit gym class. Luckily, a friend of hers has an incredible opportunity to fill this need in a unique way.

The opportunity? Sailing.

Hermans takes the offer, and quickly learns the ropes of the sport. She masters skills such as tacking, gybing, tiller control, sail trim and more. By the end of the course, she knows that this is a sport that she plans to participate in for the rest of her life, and so, she joins the sailing club at the university.

Her sailing journey continues after college.

She purchases her own boat, a Laser Two, a high performance and difficult vessel to master. With this boat, advanced racing skills become a breeze to her – roll tacking, walkovers and back winding to name a few.

Soon, she realizes that this intense sailing might not be the type of voyage for her.

“I didn’t get into the racing a whole lot.”

Hermans invests into a Hunter 23, a wonderful cruising boat and finds it to be much more her speed. Not to mention, it’s also got a stove.

Through this boat, Hermans becomes a more seasoned sailor; she realizes the impacts that sailing has had on her life. 

“It’s taught me a lot, both perseverance and having the confidence to keep learning.”

Hermans continues to sail whenever she can, and with each outing, she grows not only as a sailor but as an individual. She also upgrades and purchases a Hunter 31, this one even has a shower.