Tag Archives: mentor

Sailing Up the Ranks.

Twenty years from now you will be more disppointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

If you’ve been following Beyond the Flow, you’re probably aware that our son sails and is a member of our local sailing club. Mr started out with the Sea Scouts, but my Dad sails and is very encouraging, along with my husband who’s out there in a support role every Saturday. I also love sailing when I get a chance.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t look at our son and pick he was going to become a sailor. He’s always been a very active kid and not the type to sit still and I’m not the type to bother learning knots etc. However, he took to sailing like a duck to water. He really loves it and I’ve even seen him get frustrated when he’s stuck on land and there’s a great sailing wind.

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child but take courage: it can be delightful.”
―George Bernard Shaw

However, sailing became a lot more challenging when he went up the ranks and got his own boat, a Flying Eleven. Indeed, in those early months, there were times where sailing became quite soul destroying. His boat has capsized, been towed in and then there have been the vagueries of the weather. Like just about every junior sailor, he’s also come in and threatened to quit. Indeed, there was one very memorable Saturday, when my husband also threatened to quit. So, you can well imagine the size of that seismic burst! Trust me! I had to pull a rabbit out of my hat that afternoon.

However, as the season’s continued, there’s been progress. Firstly, he didn’t capsize. Then, he won a race. Recently, the juniors also went out and skippered a member’s boat with assistance, and the boat he was on came first. Again, while I’m cautious about getting over-excited, you have to applaud a first!

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”

Louisa May Alcott

When it comes to my kids taking on sports or any activity, while it would be great to have them win, I am also looking for character-building stuff. That they grow and develop into considerate, compassionate human beings. At an Olympic level, we saw this at the Winter Olympics when Australian aerial Skier, David Morris, kept his cool despite the judges making a bad call. These sort of characteristics are important, as is helping to bring others up through the ranks. Encouraging them through the enormous frustrations you’ve worked through yourself. Then, they’ll not only learn the ropes, but also overcome the mental demons which threaten to sink their hopes before they even get started.

“The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself.”
– John Rousmaniere

So, I was pretty stoked when I popped into the sailing club on Saturday and found out that Mr had been out helping another Junior. It was his first day out with his new boat and Mr had gone out with him instead. While Mr was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see him sailing his boat, I was very proud to see that the club had recognized his progress. That he had reached a point, where he could start passing on his experience, knowledge and his encouragement to someone else.  Personally, I think it’s very helpful to have someone with you who is just a few steps ahead. After all, they still remember the frustrations, the pitfalls and how to get around them. They keenly feel that sense of defeat turning itself round into progress and victory. Victory against yourself, and those demons of self-doubt in your own head. After all, they’re the biggest enemies most of us will ever have to face.

“I can’t control the wind but I can adjust the sail.”
― Ricky Skaggs

It’s these sort of struggles which build perseverance and resilience. Or, as my Dad used to say, “put hair on your chest”.  These are qualities not gained through repeated wins, but through repeated knock backs and defeat combined with the ability to get back on the horse and have another go. This a very different experience to bolting straight to the finish line. From always coming first and wearing the victory crown. It means being the loser many times over but never giving up. Indeed,  it could well involve training or working harder, smarter and pushing yourself beyond the brink, not even to take out the coveted gold, but at the same time you’ve achieved something intangible. Indeed, your gold medal’s on the inside.

Now, I am trying to picture our son reading this in 20 years time when he’s nudging 35 and wondering if he even remembers what it was like to start out. Whether he has forgotten all about the capsizing, muddy sails and paddling out of the mud and only remembers the thrill of the wind…the exhilaration of sailing. Even for me, it is something far beyond words and yet Rod Stewart captured it well:

 

Have you ever been sailing and have you caught the bug?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

A First For Our Young Skipper.

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”

Thomas Merton

In the throws of victory, it is easy to forget the snags we overcame along the way which were just as much a part of our victory, as crossing the line first…the winner!
Our son’s been sailing for a few years. He first had a go at Sea Scouts and did a few training courses there and then he headed off to our local sailing club and became a member. It’s been a long way just to get to the bottom, the start, the beginning. He’s now officially a junior. Ideally, he would’ve been a bit younger, a bit smaller and had a go racing the Optimists (Opties), which would’ve given him the chance to enter competitions at other clubs, but also tearing his father out of bed earlier and driving to whoop whoop with a boat and trailor weighing down the car. Instead, he’s sailing in a Flying 11 and has had trouble finding a permanent crew member and he’s also had a lot to learn about the rigging, winds, keeping the boat upright and out of the water. More importantly, there’s also what he’s learning about himself and pitting himself against the vagaries of nature with varying wind speeds and weather conditions.
DSC_8266.JPG
Each of the Juniors, have no doubt had their day. That time when they fall on their sword, or more likely their wooden paddle (a sailor uses it to bail themselves out of trouble like a capsize or lack of wind). That moment when they say they’re giving up. Hate sailing and you can sell the boat. Of course, they don’t usually express themselves quite so eloquently when they’re caught up in the moment and I should just warn you, this is not the time for you as a parent to jump in and throw up golden classics like: “I never had an opportunity like that when I was a kid”, “Get up you lazy oaf and get on with it!!” No, this is the time for you as a parent to just merge into the landscape for a bit until the storm has past. It’s all frustration talking and rather than being a sign they can’t do it, it could well mean that they’re on the cusp of taking the next leap forward. They can see where they want to be and are frustrated because they can’t quite get there yet.
Anyway, on Wednesday night they had a special event on where the juniors could skipper one of the member’s boats during the weekly twilight race. Our son jumped at the chance and I had the job of dropping him off and photographing what I could and Geoff would pick him up while I went to violin and picked our daughter up from dance. I don’t get to the sailing club very often and despite being a social member, I was very much just there as “Jonathon’s Mum”. Geoff usually goes out on the safety boat each Saturday and seems to be fairly involved.
DSC_8288.JPG
Unfortunately, I didn’t really get a chance to see him sail, but I did see him climb on board his boat for the night where the owner greeting him with a respectful hand shake and welcomed him on board not as a kid, but as a young man. I really appreciated the faith he and all the other participating members had in our kids, because faith breeds confidence, belonging and a sense of being valued. Special. While these are attributes all our young people should experience just like brushing their teeth, all too often they’re greeting with suspicion. A group of young people hanging out can be perceived as a gang and they’re not doing anything wrong. Indeed, they could well be doing nothing at all.
However, the juniors were also there to learn more about sailing and what it’s like to steer a bigger yacht versus their little bathtubs with sails. The Flying 11s have a tiller whereas the yacht he skippered had a steering wheel like my Dad’s boat and that takes some getting used to. He could also observe the other sailors on board and learn a few things.
Anyway, as it turned out our son’s boat came first. I was stoked for him. We don’t get a lot of firsts in this household so they really need to be observed. He has received a glass with the sailing club’s emblem on it, which we’ve been advised not to get wet. As they said it the Australian movie The Castle, “that’s one for the pool room”.
So, congratulations to our very own Popeye the sailor. We’re very proud of you!
Have you even been sailing? What are your thoughts about it? Please share in the comments below.
xx Rowena