I am a lot braver now - by Gwen Sargent
I have been racing in boats since before I can remember. I won my first open meeting before I was born, helping Mummy crew when she was four months pregnant. But the first time I did an Optimist open in January 2016 I was really nervous. Luckily we found ways to conquer my nerves:
- I had Hatman, a hat retainer, and when I touched him it reminded me of Mummy and Daddy. He made me feel safe and like I had a friend aboard. I have used Hatman so much that he has lost an eye and isn’t shiny and bright anymore
- I thought about things I would see when I got home, like my teddies Dimple and Squeak
- I was able to comfort myself by saying in my head that Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t have sent me out if it wasn’t safe
- I would ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen to me? The answer was always that I might capsize and get wet!
- I have warm Rooster kit, so I know that if I do capsize I won’t get cold - snugly hats and gaiters help too
- On top of that, my success in the 2000 with Daddy showed me that I was a good sailor and that there was nothing to be scared of
- I now give my own order at restaurants and talk to people I haven’t met before which improves my all-round confidence
- And I have lucky socks!
Mummy taught me some techniques because she gets nervous too and I learned some myself:
- If you sit head to wind in the middle of the boat you get more seasick
- Don’t sit down before you go out sailing – keep yourself busy
- EAT even if you feel sick or not hungry
- Wee before you go out
Now I have a coaching award for improved confidence in sailing, a school award for better confidence in class and lots more friends at the sailing clubs. Conquering my sailing nerves has made me able to do things that aren’t sailing related, like Go Ape. I am a lot braver now!
Me with my teddies Dimple (bear) and Squeak (monster), Hatman, my lucky socks and my recent awards: medal for 3rd place in Optimist Regatta Fleet at Southern Zone Championships, medal for 1st place in Optimist fleet at West Sussex School Sailing Association Regatta, glittery reindeer for winning the Emsworth Racing Martlets Winter Race Series, Lost Track trophy for winning the Emsworth Sailing Club Bottle Boat Race, Brass slipper warmer trophy for winning the Slipper Shiver pursuit race in Zoomy our 2000, Thorney Island Sailing Club best crew trophy with Johnny and Mummy, and 10th place at 2000 Nationals. It’s all thanks to my new-found confidence!