"I read a book about a girl who had a sailboat when I was 12 years old, and it's always stuck with me," said retired surface miner Donald Summers of Pond Gap.
"I went out on a catamaran at Myrtle Beach and I loved it. Then back in 2006, when I was working on a strip job and talking about sailing on the CB, the boss told me he could put me in touch with a man who could teach me to sail. That's how I met Bob. I took his class, which was a lot of fun, and with his help, I ended up buying a used boat. "I'm retired now, so hopefully I can do a lot more sailing," he said.
Kelli Marteney of Parkersburg said she first went sailing at the age of 9 with her family at western Maryland's Deep Creek Lake. Through Richards' learn-to-sail classes, her daughter, Bella, is able to take up -- and hopefully pass along -- the family sailing tradition, she said.
"It's really nice to be able to share sailing with Bella, especially now that she's the same age I was when I started to sail," she said.
The nearby presence of a West Virginia sailing club with a learn-to-sail program and a large, scenic lake on which to sail helped Mary Jean Mayles pick Summersville as a place in which to live and work.
"I sailed as a kid and young adult in Virginia, then I moved away from the water to Staunton and began missing it," she said. "The first time I saw this lake, I thought 'this is it!''
Now a teacher at Nicholas County High, Mayles plans to do what she can to get students at her school involved with sailing.
For Riverside High School teacher Austin Knox of Pinch, sailing "is a nice, relaxing activity -- plus you can say, 'I've got a sailboat.' " Knox bought his Hobie Cat catamaran in 2010, and taught himself to sail on Summersville Lake after reading up on the sport.
"It's not that hard to learn the basics, but it is hard to be really good at sailing," he said.
Being good at sailing on a lake is particularly challenging.
"All the points along the lake's shoreline cause drafts and eddies," Knox said. "Unlike the ocean, there's no current or steady wind to help you along."
"Sailing on a lake makes you a better sailor," Richards said.
For more information about the Sewell Mountain Sailing Association and its programs, visit www.soapysails.webs.com or call 304-438-5035.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.