As a writer and sailor, there are few chances for me to sit back and, well, CROW about a recent accomplishment. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do today, because supercrew Kim Couranz and I just won a World Championship! For those of you who don’t speak sailing, these five lessons do apply to any of life’s challenges—and I promise to go easy on the lingo.
The Snipe Women’s Worlds in Newport included four days of sailing in a wide variety of conditions, just as any world championship should. Sailors have different specialties, and though mine has always been light air we won the event on the final and windiest day because we’ve been working hard to get stronger and faster in big breeze. Lesson #1: Work on your weaknesses.
I am lucky enough to sail with Kim Couranz, an incredible teammate and friend. We first met as Snipe crews back in the late 1900s, passing time in the shower line chatting about our skippers’ quirks; I enjoyed her quick wit and positive outlook, while on the water I admired how hard she hiked. (Twenty-plus years later, all of this is still the case.) The Snipe is a crew-driven boat, and even though we idiots on the tiller get most of the credit we do only about thirty percent of the work.
Kim and I first sailed together in 2005, but we really committed to a Snipe program in 2010 and are now recognized as one of the most “seasoned” teams on the international circuit. After so many races (and dinners, and even a few protests) together, we know each other’s weaknesses; we do our best to offset, rather than harp on them. We also know each other’s many strengths, and in tough situations we remind each other to focus on those and let the rest sort itself out. Lesson #2: Choose your best teammate, and then hold onto her with both hands.
Once Kim and I committed to sailing the Women’s Worlds, we both focused on reducing distractions. I finally crossed off all the items on my boat work list, and I also told clients I would not be available during the event (something I rarely do). When the regatta began we were rested and ready, and our first and only priority was going sailing. Lesson #3: Regattas are won (or lost) long before they start.