Come sail away [Slideshow]

Jack Roeder always loved building things. Four years ago, he stumbled into the world of sailing. He never thought his two passions would collide.

The Sailor

Sophomore Jack Roeder stood proudly before the pristine cover in his garage. The fluorescent orange name “Jack” was crudely painted across it. It disappeared into a heap on the floor as he drew back the cover, revealing the white hull of a sailboat. Against the wall were the boat’s tightly wrapped sails, which, unraveled, consist of about 80 feet of fabric.

“Man, it can be a challenging boat sometimes,” Roeder said.

Roeder moved to the other side of the boat and stared at it with the watchful eye of a parent.

The boat, a present bought by his parents three years ago, is a 1980s Laser named “Pride”. Roeder started sailing only four years ago at Bartle Scout Camp when he took the sailing merit badge. He has made racing, sailing and now boat building his life’s passion.

“I have no idea where I would be without sailing, honestly. Before I started sailing, I was just your typical teenager playing countless hours of video games. Now that’s stopped,” Roeder said. “Sailing is what I live for now. I’ve shaped my entire life around it.”

Although it may seem like an unusual hobby for a midwestern teen, sailing is something that runs in his family. His cousins, who live in Miami, are avid sailors. Every summer, he makes the trip to visit them and, of course, it’s a great excuse for him to get some time in on the water.

“Sailing on the ocean is exhilarating; that’s the only way to describe it. You have five-foot waves that send your boat flying,” Roeder said. “I can remember once we were sailing off the coast, and we saw a lot of dark shadows beneath the boat. It turns out it was a school of sting rays below us. What other sport is going to give you that opportunity?”
Since Roeder began to sail, he has embraced it fully. To fuel his passion for sailing, he occasionally instructs sailing at Olathe Lake during the summer. It’s this love for sailing that has helped him to decide a career path.

“I really want to get into the Naval Academy. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m hoping that sailing is something that can help me get in,” Roeder said.

If he graduates from the Naval Academy, Roeder plans to continue in pursuit of a career in the Navy.

“I want to help people, and the Navy seems like the best way to do that. Not to mention, I will be on the water for a long time. I would be doing something I love,” Roeder said.

Roeder organized the equipment lying in the boat and sighed. He slipped the boat’s cover back on with precision.
“You know, no matter what happens I will always have sailing.”

The Builder

“I’ve always loved to expand on simple items and, as I’ve gotten older, those simple items have gotten just a bit larger,” Roeder said.

Roeder stared down upon his newest creation. He ran his hands over the coarse, white sides of the boat as he pulled off miniscule bits of plywood. His creation is a 10-foot motor boat made out of wood and sealed together artlessly. The boat stood awkwardly on a trailer outside in the cold. It was motorless and barely gave the appearance that it would be buoyant if placed in any waters.

“I’m going to launch it at Shawnee Mission Park,” Roeder said. “It’s hard to believe that this boat is even real; it’s even more hard to believe that my own hands built it.”

His plan to build the boat actually started out as a joke between himself and senior Carter Clond in woods class. They were assigned a project of their choice.

“We both just said one day, ‘Let’s build a boat.’ I don’t think either of us took it serious, and I started the project with a bit of skepticism,” Roeder said.

Roeder half-heartedly went through with the idea thinking it would just be a waste of time.

“Even when I continued building the boat, I was still surprised that I was actually doing it.”

Building has been one of Roeder’s favorite things to do since he was little. He used to have RC cars that he would upgrade. He now spends time improving on his 2007 Dodge Magnum.

Roeder eyed the boat and remarked on the boat’s symmetrical qualities. He was amazed that it could be so well built in two months and with the $40 he had to build it. The boat, however isn’t entirely finished.

“I still have to put another coat of paint on it. I also plan on attaching a 4-horsepower motor to it.,” Roeder said. “I’ve seen it run, though; I know it will work.”

He laughed nervously.

“I hope it will work.”

He took a step backward, admired the boat in the cold winter air and shot a sly grin at it.

“People are telling me it isn’t going to float. It’s nothing but motivation for me,” Roeder said. “I know that if it floats I’ll prove everybody wrong. If it doesn’t float, well, at least I can say I did something. How many other 15-year-olds do you know that have built a boat?”