Sail Your Course – Life Lesson from Sailing

May 21, 2024

Sailing, to the uninitiated it seems daunting, however, all it takes is one time out on the water, perfect weather, and just the right breeze to hook you.

In 2010 I purchased my first sailboat. My family thought I was nuts; I had never been sailing in my life, but I read a book and thought I could do it. I will never forget the first time I had the sails up. No sound except the gentle lap of water against the hull as the boat slid smoothly through the water. Pure, blissful, peace- I was hooked!

Fast forwards several years and sailing has grown into somewhat of an obsession. Not only am I sailing my own boat for fun, but now I also sail for sport. Multiple days each week you can find me on the water, putting my skills, and my boat, to the test against other skilled sailors.

Sailboat racing is very complex, two of many things you must pay attention to are wind indicators on the water and what the wind in your competitor’s sails looks like. Watching boats around you helps you judge where the best wind is and how other boats are doing relative to you. Watching other boats can be deceiving though! Any distance more than a few feet from your boat and the other boat may have very different wind conditions, from any number of factors. You need to keep that forefront in your mind and remember they are only a guide and not truth for what the wind is doing to your boat.

It is common for newer racers on the crew to become distracted with what is happening on other boats and lose sight of what is happening on their own boat, causing the boat to become inefficient and slow down. The crew has come up with a phrase when they notice this, “Sail your own course!”

“Sail your own course!”

– Billabong Race Crew 2018

“Sail your own course” has implications beyond the race course. We have a course we are on through life; at home, at work, in our social organizations. Along the way, society is constantly throwing distractions at us. I am guilty of being pulled off course by such distractions and you are too. It is important to consistently remind ourselves to stay on course.

What is distracting you?
How can you remember to “sail your own course?”
What would be most helpful to keep you on course?

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