I have just spent the last two weeks in Palma de Mallorca, coaching two young kiwi girls – twins Courtney & Brianna (C&B), sailing in their first European event in my old boat. It was the first time I have really been back around Olympic sailing since Rio, and it was rather eye opening in a few ways!
Before this Palma trip, my last few months have been ‘life as usual’ – Just working, making the most of evenings and weekends, time with friends and family, and getting back into my hobbies like kitesurfing, running and stand up paddling. Pretty much your normal 9-5 working life… I guess that’s maybe why I haven’t had anything to write about on here, it has all just been a little uneventful, but not necessarily in a bad way.
Work has been up and down, I guess I rate it about 65-70% good thus far, the people are really great and the learning interesting, but the workload has been a bit light at times for my liking – I am nothing but grumpy when bored. The hardest part is just not feeling like I have anything to offer or any way to add value, as I just am not a specialist in anything business related! I have a lot of transferable skills, and my viewpoint is most definitely different to those that have come up through the corporate ranks, I do think in a different way, but I am just not quite sure where I fit as yet.
I have known since I started my job at EY that it was going to take at least a year to really feel comfortable, and I am about five months in now, so I still have a way to go. I am excited to start working in a slightly more people centric area in the next few weeks, and I will probably be dropped a little in the deep end which is a good thing, as a challenge and new things to learn should keep me busy!
But enough about work…. What I realized at the start of this year, was that doing just one thing – working in the corporate world, was probably not going to be satisfying enough overall and I am very happy that I put some plans into place to keep a little variety – I find nothing helps with perspective like a little variety!
I have taken on helping C&B where I can this year, Palma was our first event, and I will also go with them to the World Champs in Aarhus in July/August. They are young – when I say young, I mean only just turned 18, and the keenest young sailors I have seen in a long time. It’s not going to be an easy road for them, they have a ton of learning to do to try achieve the results needed to qualify NZ in the 470W class for Tokyo, but we are going to try and give it a go!
Arriving in Palma, this time as a coach – on the other side of the fence – was a bit of an unknown, and I have to say it really showed me a lot about what I did before that I didn’t realize while doing it. The first thing that struck me was just how much energy I had, so much more than when I was sailing. The difference between that low level of stress and expectation that I carried as an athlete, and the much more relaxed way I approach coaching.
I belive that my place as a coach is to support, to help when ever help is needed, to be a sturdy back up member of the team, and to help my sailors learn. But the result on the water is not mine, yes – it’s sometimes hard to watch your sailors make mistakes and have tough results – But the mistakes and the successes are theirs to own, theirs to learn from. I am simply there to help them make sense of everything, and find the right way forward, but how they sail is not a representation of me, I’m just the support… A nice change.
It felt so different to when I was the one on the water racing, that feeling that sailing was my whole world, that I was only as good as the last event, completely void of perspective and taking it all far too seriously! The girls really helped me see that again, they are so young and fresh, and actually just loving what they are doing, they can smile and laugh after a bad race, yes, they get down about it too – but they bounce back because at the core they are just happy to be there and sailing. I think this is something seasoned campaigners can learn from – It was always one of our campaign cornerstones: Still be having fun – It is a good check at any level, to remember the reason you started with your sport in the beginning…
It was great to see everyone, to catch up with old friends – sailors and coaches, to enjoy the beautiful place that Palma is. It was my sixth time to Palma, and a very different experience to all those trips before, I even took a few days after to explore the island with PJ and eat plenty of yummy Spanish food. It’s something I was not so good at while I was competing – Taking time off.
Climbing the peak of Puig de Massanella – the highest walkable mountain on the island was a complete highlight, it was a seven hour, 23km walk – Partly because my route planning was a bit fluid, and after reaching the summit which involved some slightly dodgy rock climbing, we took a track down with no idea where it led – but it was the only track we could find and it was going to get dark soon and I didn’t want to retrace the climb we took to get up! We ended up about near a town 15km from where we had left the car, but at least we got down before dusk, and got a taxi back to our starting point… Nothing like an adventure to round off a great trip!
Now it’s time to go back to work and back to ‘normal life’, and hope that I can settle back into normality without wanting to get on a plane and escape to that old life again! Well, until May anyway – where a trip to London for the World Sailing Mid-Year meeting is already on my books. Old habits are hard to break…