As Islanders late this week kept a close eye on Hurricane Sandy moving up the East Coast with a possible fury, a small group of world-class speed sailors patiently waited out the news. While everyone else was making mental lists for battening down hatches, the sailors were excited at the prospect of gale-force winds, perfectly timed for the 2012 North American Speed Sailing Championships taking place on the Vineyard this week and next with the top-ranked speed sailors in the world.

These sailors include the Vineyard’s own Rob Douglas, who holds the title as the fastest man in the world, and Brock Callen. Mr. Douglas and Mr. Callen were in first and third place respectively at press time.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, a group of more than one hundred highly-practiced students of meditation were arriving on the Vineyard from around the world for a monthlong retreat. They came to study with Tsoknyi Rinpoche in a mostly silent retreat held at the Yoga Barn from October 24 through November 20. Rinpoche holds seminars and retreats around the world. This is his first retreat on the Island.

A year ago when planning the retreat, the organizers wondered whether it would be possible on the Vineyard. Worries about housing and the high costs of the Island were paramount. The reality, though, turned out to be not that difficult at all. Affordable rental opportunities were numerous as Islanders were more than happy to earn some off-season income.

These unrelated world-class pursuits, from power athletics to power mental gymnastics, suggest new possibilities for the Vineyard as a gracious host. In the summer the Island infrastructure fairly bursts at the seams, seldom with any excess capacity. The shoulder seasons have become busier over the years. But still it is often the leaves falling from the trees that appear most active once Columbus Day sets sail.

Kite sailors and meditation retreats, now that they are here, seem like a perfect fit for the Island. What other groups are out there with a natural affinity for a place like this who would love to put the Vineyard on their off-season itinerary? The possibilities seem endless.