Is sailing in Argentina for candy-ass yuppies or real sailors?

The answer is both.

Sailing in Argentina can either be as exhilarating as climbing Mt Everest or about as exciting as watching paint dry.  It depends on where your point of departure is.  The two major harbors from which sailors leave are Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata.

“Setting out from Buenos Aires is like going on a Sunday drive,” said Larry Anderson, American expat, sailing enthusiast and 25 year Argentine resident.  “Going from Mar del Plata is like driving in the Indianapolis 500.”

Set out from Mar del Plata and your skills and co-ordination are tested to the limit.  Ropes to turn, sails to raise and lower and winds to struggle and fight with make the Mar del Plata the point of adventure for sailing in this part of the southern hempisphere.  It’s no surprise that for every eight sail boats registered in the country, 7 of them call Mar del Plata ‘home’.

If Mar del Plata is considered by the sailing community to be the big leagues of sailing, many in Argentina consider Buenos Aires and its many sailing clubs to be minor leagues.

Located 400 km (249 miles) south of Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata is the second largest city in the Buenos Aires Province.

Meaning “adjoining sea to the (River) Plate region” Mar del Plata is home to some of the finest sailors and vessels west of the Atlantic, a fact reflected in the names of the clubs along the two bodies of water.

In Buenos Aires, sailing clubs are still called “Yachting clubs” a high-browed misnomer that was finally dispensed with in the 1996 Olympics.  Similar organizations in Mar del Plata reflect the more accurate and honest title of “Sailing Clubs.”

Made more for Sunday cruises around the river – Rio de Plate is the widest river in the world – the sailboats are by comparison tiny and built more for socializing with friends over wine than any real sailing.  A sport for white collar workers who want to be able to tell their friends at the office Monday that they went “sailing” over the weekend, sailing out of Buenos Aires is struggling to be taken seriously by the world sailing community.  Instead, all serious sailors turn towards Mar del Plata.

With open ocean, unpredictiable winds and currents a persons full skills are tested as the sail boat is steered into the wind.  With no time to snack or sip wine, the sailor who takes on the Atlantic proves that he is ready to be challenged beyond anything else that live can throw.

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