Sailboat Racing

SAILBOAT RACING: Leverage the Resistance

by Anne M. Berg

Team competition gives us a chance to learn more about who we are. It exercises our ability to work together, to push ourselves, and even to suffer loss. I’ve spent nearly 40 years of my adult life racing sailboats on the Great Lakes. For me, the most fascinating thing about sailing is that the boat requires resistance in order to move forward — from both the wind against the sails and the water against the keel. Without this resistance, there’s no forward momentum.

Unfortunately, when we avoid conflict in our lives — when we avoid difficult subjects or painful experiences — we miss the opportunity to grow. We miss the chance to gain perspective. And accelerate our performance. You can’t sail directly into the wind. You end up in irons, completely stalled, if you try. So what’s the lesson here?

Accept the resistance in your life. Let it flow through you, without fighting, so it can teach you something. Let it show you how to see things differently. When I first started sailing, I didn’t know the terms or the maneuvers. I didn’t know the rules of engagement. I didn’t know the strategies or tactics. I didn’t know what strength I had. Over time, I learned. And these life learnings are cherished bits of wisdom I carry with me every day.