Sailing School at Rutland

Extracted from Taking on the World and by courtesy of Dame Ellen MacArthur

How do you learn to be a great sailor and inspire a Nation?

“As my tenth birthday approached, I was just old enough to go on a race training camp at Rutland Water, a large reservoir at least ten times the size of Ogston. This was a long way from Derbyshire, but as soon as I knew that I was old enough to go I was determined to do so. The course was a week long, and I had asked for it as a birthday present from my family.

I learned a tremendous amount during that week. At ten years old I was one of the youngest of the sailors and was a bit too small for the boat. This wasn’t helped by the weather we encountered  during the week. It blew at least Force 6 each day but one. I found keeping the boat upright incredibly difficult and capsized eleven times during the first day. I was so frustrated when I came last or second to last in most races as I had imagined I would be able to get better results.

It was also the first time I’d been away from home by myself and I was homesick. I didn’t really fit in with the crowds from different sailing clubs, I didn’t have a dinghy with new sails, or the latest gear. I had no wetsuit and sailed in a navy-blue anorak and tracksuit which I would try to dry each night over the dormitory radiator. It was the first time in my life I had felt lonely. I was surrounded by people but I might as well have been a million miles away.

On the journey home I decided that I would never let this happen again. I wasn’t going to be last, no matter what it took.

A short while later , in a race at Ogston, I crossed the finish line first against the club sailors. It was a very satisfying feeling that made all my efforts there seem worthwhile.”

Perhaps you start by learning how to lose before you learn to win – TLP.

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