So there you have it. With the home stretch of the fall 2016 racing season upon us, this team of delightful sailors has not only endured immeasurable change over 6 months, but also done so with a great deal of grace and tenacity.
At least at the surface it’s easy to see how a team might have difficulty when their coach of 2 years moves home to Florida at the end of the Spring season, just as things are getting underway for Summer. One week later, the second coach (yours truly) who had been assisting them throughout the spring also leaves for a 2 month sabbatical, creating the vacuum for a summer coach to come in and attempt to keep the wheels from falling off. Or at least that’s what we expected, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Without skipping a beat, members of the team held fast to their respective roles, took on the new style of coaching with ease, and were able to accept that a new perspective can sometimes be a good thing. Regatta results were a showcase of skills learned and lessons yet to be unearthed, as racers both novice and seasoned tested their proficiency on the course. As summer wrapped up, it was farewell to yet another coach as she too headed back to Florida to continue there in her assistant collegiate coach role at USF; thanks for an amazing job this summer Julia!
Now enter me (again), fresh off of a 2 month honeymoon, relaxed and excited to get back in the straps. A few of our team members were also returning from their summer adventures and it was time to buckle down to finish this year out with a strong fall season. I was expecting there to be a bit of dissent, as anyone might who’s experienced so much leadership change in a short period of time, but again, I was fortunately mistaken. As was the case before, the team charged on, taking in yet another perspective, learning new skills, and refining old habits. With Gov Cup quickly upon us that first weekend of fall practice and another big event in Park City around the corner, we had no time to waste.
In the first couple of weeks, with record numbers of sailors signed up (over 20!) and many traveling from far and wide (Colorado Springs, Vail, Aspen, and Ft. Collins to be exact), it was clear that the CSC race team was hitting its stride regardless of who was at the helm coaching. This revelation, albeit humbling, made me see the unique quality that this team holds above any other team I’ve coached: tenacity. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re so used to experiencing 90+ degree shifts on the water here in this mountain-based sailing community that having to deal with one curve-ball after another doesn’t phase them much anymore. This could not have been more apparent in Park City this past weekend when the whole trip’s mantra became, “Just roll with it.”
Bizarre boat part breakdowns, parents heroically fetching last minute team breakfast, coach boats swamping, capsizes gone awry, zip tied sails, spectator boat pitching in with a rescue, Lord of the Flies style postponement on Opti Island, getting lost in a state park, taking a dirt road detour 3 hours into an 8 hour trip, closed rest stops along the highway, getting stuck with negative clearance in a parking garage… NONE of these things phased this team. In fact, as a coach I continued to receive comments about how pleasant, gracious, and helpful our sailors were.
One Park City adult member out sailing that day even took the time at the regatta dinner to publicly praise our young sailors for their incredible teamwork during a potentially treacherous postponement. He felt sure he was about to bare witness to the destructive incapacity of a fleet of overpowered opti sailors all trying to secure themselves to a small floating dock in 15 knots of breeze. Instead, he was astounded to watch as they each coached and then caught one another safely in a manner that indicated cognizance for the situation’s fiberglass repair potential: all of this care and caution without a single prompt from any adult as everyone in a motor boat was waylaid with capsizes and carnage (parent spectator pontoon included). Listening to his account of this event brought tears to my eyes and created overwhelming pride in my heart… so much love and genuine respect for these kids.
All in all, what I’ve learned in the last couple months of coaching this incredible group is that the lessons you learn on the water are just as buoyant on land. As long as you have a goal and know where you’re aiming, come hell, high water, header or lift, you might not always be exactly on your rhumbline, but adjusting your sails to the changing shifts of the guard and daily curveballs makes you a stronger person and better suited for success. Now, if you get a whole group of people who are all equally committed to the same common goal, the momentum they carry with them will no doubt roll over any bumps in the road or unexpected situations that come up. And if those committed sailors are supported by a Superhero Squad of Topnotch Parents (no joke, you guys deserve capes) who will do anything and everything they can for the good of the team and the future of the sport, then this group of individuals becomes unstoppable in their pursuit to become the best they can be.
You see, it’s not just the coach or the equipment, the venue or the skill set that makes a sailing team successful. It’s the rock solid core, quality of character, and relentless determination that have value beyond measure. This driving force that never wanes, this unflinching dedication and ardent perseverance, epitomizes us as sailors from the Rockies! We are steadfast, strong, and stubborn. We are all that is tenacious. We are the Community Sailing of Colorado Race Team and it is my honor to be called Coach.
2016 Available Results and Photos
DSA Rocky Mountain Shoot-out/Hornblower at Cherry Creek Reservoir (please take note that our Junior Team took first in the Lightening class)
Dillon Junior Olympics
DSA Governor’s Cup at Cherry Creek Reservoir (photos)
Park City Fall Regatta (photos)