We are about to close the book on the spring 2018 racing circuit. The midwinter’s regattas (east & west) mark the end of this “semester” of sailing. I sent some questions out to our top US 29er sailors to ask about their experience from this season of training, here’s what they said:
“There is a lot more to learn every time we put our boat in the water, and I need to make more of an effort to try to take advantage of [our] practices,” reflects Severin Gramm (DelRay Beach, FL). Severin has been training in the boat for three years and recently finished 12th at the 2018 Worlds in Hong Kong. “When the Canadian team came to visit they were much hungrier for success and wanted to have longer days on the water then the regular Miami kids.”
Devotion to consistent reflection and critique can be tough, and it’s easy to get caught in a negative feedback loop. Perspective is important, especially when you need to save yourself from always looking at the negative. You must remind yourself that you are good at what you do and are striving for greatness. Trust the process.
Fleet veteran Sam Merson (San Diego, CA) who, after placing 2nd in the finals series, finished 7th at the 2018 Worlds in Hong Kong admits that “training for ISAF Qualifiers has taught me that aiming for perfection in the little things, that seem to matter in the moment but don’t actually matter in the long run, when racing shouldn’t hinder your mental attitude.”
Let me give some context to Sam’s quote. He and his teammate Ryan Eastwood flew to Miami for the MidWinter’s East after dominating the first qualifier in Houston two weeks prior. The forecast in Miami looked bleak, light air for four days straight. Weighing in with a combined 320 pounds, Sam knew the light air would be tough. Rather than let the threat of light air racing take the proverbial wind out of his sails, Sam set his focus elsewhere.
“The most significant lesson from MidWinters East was that focusing on what we know best was more important than stressing over what we aren’t the best at,” says Sam. “Even more so, rather than complaining about what we aren’t best at or the conditions around, it is crucial to put significant effort into finding solutions.”
This is how you save yourself from a negative loop.
B Lindsay (Palm Beach, FL) teamed up with i420 veteran Allie Tilinghast (Manhattan, NY) for the ISAF Q rounds. Allie stepped into the boat in a high pressure regatta environment and didn’t let the tension of the event hold her back, “the more out of your comfort zone something is, the more rewarding it is when you succeed at trying it.”
Her skipper B, who has been at the top of the US fleet for the past year, stays on top of her game by managing the distractions, “Being mentally strong cannot be stressed enough! After being faced with uncontrollable [situations] and instead turn around and use my time and mental capacity to focus on finding a solution and not wallowing in the problems I face helped shape my experience,” says B.
“The process of training to the ISAF qualifiers has taught me to always be in the right mental place and to know that I am capable of doing well no matter the situation, and how important self-confidence is,” says Nick Hardy (Newton, MA) who pulled out an amazing performance with his skipper Charlie Hibben (Barnstable, MA) at MidWinter’s East. “Never giving up even with boat break downs, doubts, or difficult day. I learned that if you really work hard with one person, that you like sailing with, and work as a team with them you will succeed.”
Words of wisdom, indeed. Especially the last part of that quote. Sometime the hardest part of this process is finding a teammate who you like sailing with and then pushing each other towards greatness.
The gravitational force of good teamwork cannot be denied.
Severin Gramm: “I would like to congratulate the Berta [Puig] and Bella [Casaretto] for staying super consistent throughout the regatta and for qualifying for ISAF Youth Worlds. Both of them shared a common goal and worked very hard in a short period of time to achieve it. I admire their ability to not get emotional about their sailing and their success in taking full advantage of their strengths for the conditions.”
What’s the final take away from this “semester”? Learn from it and move on. We must reflect on our performance and use it to motivate us to finding better habits, minimizing distractions, and becoming better teammates.
Severin Gramm admits, “The most significant lesson from the last event is not to make excuses. I would tell myself that we are much slower than other boats in the lighter breeze and although this may be true, leading me to believe this will make my performance worse.
“A better option would be to focus on our boats strengths rather than the weaknesses and take full advantage of the places we are strong in rather than focusing on the things that we are not.”