Own Your Campaign

a 7 minute read…

All effort is futile if it’s unfocused. A team without direction or intention is nothing more than a group of people. Let’s set our intention and improve our systems. This essay is a provocation for better methods. I want to see sailors who are at the helm of their sailing campaigns. 

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What’s your goal for your sailing?

You are not a jellyfish. You are not floating in a tumultuous ocean, victim to waves, predators, and humongous gyres of current which swirl your aimless, gelatin like body around. You will not haphazardly wash up onto the beach nor will you be eaten by a sea turtle, a turtle which will then be eaten by a bull shark.

You are a sailor. You are an athlete. You are a person equipped with years of experience and you have developed a set of high level skills that you call upon during competition. You have the ability to look into your future and visualize success.  You can recall your past and reflect upon winning or losing decisions you’ve made. Unlike a jellyfish, you have eyes that can read notes you’ve written to yourself to remember things you’ve learned. Your eyes can read articles from people who are more experienced, organized, or at least most articulate than you, which can inspire you, and make you think about your sailing or your boat differently.

You have the ability to live in the present moment. You are equipped with muscle memory, which is your animal instinct that has been cultivated over long hours on the water. You can recall this muscle memory without thinking, as long as your mind is clear.

Your mind can only be clear once you’ve checked all the boxes. Once your equipment, clothes, food, plans, intentions, and team are organized and ready for performance. If you’ve prepared adequately, a clear mind will empower you to have laser beam focus on whatever you’re attacking. Leandro was asked by Ian Brill during an October training camp, “How do we know we’re getting better?”

This question kept him up at night. After a marathon search to answer this question he found a quote that struck him as a suitable answer: “Everyone has goals, even those struggling in the back of the pack. But champions have methods. That’s what sets them on top.”

You are not a f-cking jellyfish. A jellyfish doesn’t know laylines, playbooks, tuning guides, comms, or how / where to step and put your weight to gybe in 15 knots. So be yourself and do not allow yourself to drift willy-nilly through your sailing campaign, your next day of practice, your next regatta, the days leading up to it are a test of your resolve. A test of your method. 

Preparation begins with setting goals for yourself. Consider what you want to learn from this experience? Why do you want to do this in the first place? What you want to prove to yourself? Why you think it will make you better? Why are you doing this?

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Goals are not enough. A dream without a plan is a nightmare. You will never accomplish your goal unless you create an opportunity to pursue it. Achieving your goal can be as easy as making ice. It takes three steps to make ice. To make ice 1) fill a vessel with water, 2) put it in the freezer, and 3) wait. Like making ice, achieving your goal is a three step process.

1) Set a Goal (example: pass at least one boat at top mark exit)

2) Create a Routine (example: Know conditions on when to set high / low / gybeset;  Practice all types of sets with teammate in conditions you’ll see at regatta; Have playbook so you know which type of set to execute{i.e. if breeze in right phase at top, gybe set to be on header downwind = high percentage move}; identify fleet tendency; finally execute planned sets.

3) Reflect during Execution (example: execute your vision and learn along the way) Ask yourself: did this work, why? If it didn’t work, why not?

Your goal must be something within your control. You cannot control the results and performances of other athletes. You cannot control the wind, current, or amount of trash drifting around the starting line.

Your goal should not be “my goal is to win worlds.” You can’t control if you win or lose worlds, no more than you can control the movement of the jellyfish that will be swirling around beneath your boat during racing.

Your goal can be “I want to give myself the opportunity to win worlds.” You can control your opportunity for success. You are experienced enough to know what foods you like to eat during competition. You know how you like to set your boat up in the morning. You know how many hours of sleep you need, or how much time you like to relax to digest each day so it doesn’t keep you up at night.

If you give yourself rules to live by during your campaign. If you plan ahead and let your team and coach know what these rules are, everyone can all help you stick to your regimen. This routine will give you the mental space to consider your future and visualize success. You will have time to reflect on each day’s racing and consider what you did well and what you’d like to do better. Once you have done both those things, you can then exist in the present with a clear mind and enjoy the amazing dinner that will fuel your recovery and prepare you for the next day. You can enjoy the experience and delight of sailing under a blue sky. You can enjoy the 30 seconds you give yourself to catch your breath after capsizing on a crash gybe during practice. You can achieve the goal you set for yourself today.

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You must be selfish with yourself. You must take the time to consider what you want, why you want it, and what you’re going to do to get it. We are all here to help you.

So, What is your goal for your sailing campaign? And more importantly what’s your plan and how can your team help you execute?

Let’s hold ourselves to a World class standard. Let’s equip ourselves to manage our own campaigns. Let’s know when to turn the switch on and off. Let’s switch on our best methods.

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