The mental aspect of sailing is extremely important and perhaps the most important part of competitive sailing. Sailors often work on the technical and physical aspects of sailing and forget about the mental one.
Sailing and golf work in similar ways. You can master all the technical aspects, but it seems the best way to succeed is by staying focused and letting the people in front of you make the mistakes. Sailing is a very challenging sport because one mistake, as simple as one bad tack, whether it is at the wrong time, out of phase, or into a hole, can drop you from the top of the pack to mid-fleet, in a competitive group.
Both competitive sailing and golf are not sports where you can go out and work hard and know in an hour or two you will be done. It’s all day, all weekend and sometimes a week long event.. So it may not be the golfer with the longest drive or skipper that may have the best speed off the line that wins a tournament or a regatta. It is more often the person that has the ability to stay calm, stay focused and stay positive, race after race or hole after hole.
Our events are too long to think you can compete and not make a single mistake. Our goal should not be to never make mistakes, but to recover from them as quickly as possible. In other words, do not dwell on the mistake, but simply move on to the next task. You can see the very moment when a leading golfer breaks down, after a bad shot and loses a tournament. It is at this moment where the good become great. Tiger Woods, for example does make mistakes and he is not happy when he does. After slicing a ball into the woods, he has the amazing ability to calm himself, focus and hit the next shot onto the green. He doesn’t allow his frustration over mistakes to compound and ruin a tournament.
It is this ability to recover from mistakes quickly that allows good sailors to become champion quality sailors and stars like Tiger Woods are made.