Are you a Competent Sailor?

Are you a Competent Sailor?

What makes a “Competent Sailor?”

Competent Sailor

My buddy and I coined that phrase after racing together in a regatta once upon a time. We were bemoaning our results and the fact that we missed this shift and made that poor tack.  Suddenly he stops, looks at me seriously and says very dramatically, “We’re still very, competent, sailors.” We erupted in laughter and went on to sail together and against each other many more times, but that idea of “very competent sailor” has stayed with us.

What did he mean in that moment? I think we were reminding ourselves that, well, it takes some skill to race sailboats, even at the level we were performing, and frankly there were many people without that skill level. So for our goals at the time, and compared to where we had been, we were feeling pretty darn competent. 

What does it take for you to be a “competent sailor”? As with so many things in life…it depends. As with most sports, everyone starts on day one with the same skill level – zero! And one good rule of thumb for sailing is “the further you go, the more you need to know.” Being competent enough to sail across your local lake for an afternoon is different from being competent enough to sail a boat out through a busy harbor. And a whole suite of additional skillsareneeded to be competent enough to sail offshore, in the trades, headed to Bermuda.

Do you need to be competent at all sailing things to enjoy a day at the lake?  Of course not.  What are your goals then? What sailing plans are on your bucket list? If you start with where and how you want to sail then quickly you’ll start identifying the skills required to reach those goals, and the many stages of competence you’ll achieve along the way to becoming the “very, competent, sailor” you want to be.

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