Sailing, Fast and Slow

The following video was recommended to me.

I like Daniel Kahneman. He's the author of Thinking, Fast and Slow - if you haven't read it, it is a brilliant book on how we think, and what it means for us.

The first bit of his talk got me to thinking about sailing, and how we can engage young people more in sailing for the long term.

I don't suppose that colonoscopies are often compared with sailing, but I am about to correct this oversight. According to Dr Kahneman, people that have colonoscopies that are longer but less painful at the end have a less negative experience than those that have a shorter procedure but that is more painful at the end.

He concludes that, if we want the memory of something to be more positive, then the better the feeling at the end the more positive the memory is likely to be.

Or something like that.

So here's a thought:

If your club has a junior event, an Optimist or Laser 4.7 or Topper regatta (or whatever boat it is that the kids are sailing these days) why not try and make the end of the day positive for all the kids involved.

You see, at any regatta there will be people that are pleased with how it went, and there will probably be quite a few that are disappointed. That's normal, and you can't experience the highs of victory if you don't experience the lows of defeat.

That said, the last thing we as a sport want is for kids to be put off by constantly losing races.

So I got to thinking about how we might make the end of a regatta positive for all the sailors, regardless of how they've performed.

Wouldn't it me nice if, whilst all the junior sailors are out racing, the parents wrote down (maybe anonymously, to save the kids' blushes) something that their kid has done that day that has made them feel proud. Something they, the parents, are grateful for. It could be a friendly act, something nice they said, the effort that they put into the event, anything at all that has made the parents feel proud of the sailors.

Then pin these anonymous notes up on a board for the sailors to read after they come off the water.

The positives of doing something like this are many:

  • The participants realise that their parents are proud of them whatever their results
  • They understand that the good things they do don't go un-noticed
  • The parents get to think about the things that their kids do that make them proud
  • Everyone has something on the board that makes them happy about themselves
  • The kids will read the things that others have done that made people feel proud of them - and hopefully get some ideas of things they could do that would help others

But possibly the best thing would be that their sailing day would end on a positive note, no matter what happened on the water (even if they've had a colonoscopy of a day), so when they think back to the event they are more likely to remember it fondly, and therefore want to do it again.

2 thoughts on “Sailing, Fast and Slow

  1. Brilliant!

    Of course, in a lot of kids sports there is a culture of “Everyone’s a winner. Everyone gets a trophy.” which I suppose is intended to achieve the same end. But I like your idea much better.

    Would it be OK if I write myself an anonymous note about what I like about myself every time I go sailing?

    Wait. I guess I do already. It’s called a blog post.

  2. Of course you can, Tillerman.


    It is supposed to be a parent or guardian that writes the note. Maybe you could get your coach, or your nutritionist, or you meteorology consultant to write it for you. You could even ask your boat maintenance technician, or your press officer perhaps.

    If you got them all to write one then you’d have loads of reasons to feel proud of yourself.

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