At Pittwater High our connection to the environment and the ocean is part of our DNA.
Our Sailing program supports personal development as well as the development of life skills. There’s something about sailing that makes it quite unlike other sports. More than just skill and strategy, it teaches certain values that shape young people into unique athletes.
We usually focus on the physical aspects of sport and we forget how much we stand to gain from the sport – both socially and emotionally.
Sailing is not just a sport that keeps you fit, but also one that develops you into a well-rounded individual – something far more important than winning races or gold medals
The Benefits of Sailing with Pittwater High School
You could say that just about any sport offers a lesson on resilience, but sailing is a sport that demands an inner strength far greater than most.
In this sport, it’s sailor versus the elements. Whether you’re a novice experiencing strong winds for the first time or a National sailor met with three-metre high waves in foreign waters, you learn to keep fighting – no matter how uncomfortable it is.
Capsize? Just upright your boat and keep sailing.
2. Confidence & Teamwork
As our local America’s cup skipper Jimmy Spithill put it: “If you want to go fast, you go alone, If you want to go far, you go together.”
Most of our Sailors foray into the sport begins with the School Pacer. It’s a double-handed boat, which means it’s controlled by a skipper and crew. Working together they don’t always make the right decisions, but the opportunity to work together helps them grow in self-confidence.
Once you’ve conquered strong winds big waves, reaching the top mark or getting around the course with no mistakes you can do almost anything.
Sailors are forced to work together from day one. Over time, sailors gradually realise that working together not only helps speed things up, but also allows them to learn more from one another.
Perhaps one of the most valuable takeaways from sailing is the friendships forged. It’s inevitable that sailors bond with one another during windless days and scary storms.
The sea is a great equaliser and the sea does not discriminate. Making new friends on the water enduring the elements and challenges together.
Sailing friends last a life time from racing skiffs to Sydney to Hobart.
“The experiences gathered, boundaries stretched, friends made, cultures learnt are truly invaluable.”
Touched a mark without anyone catching you in the act? Complete your penalty anyway.
Sailing is a self-governing sport, which means it’s completely up to sailors to abide by the rules and uphold the fairness of racing. It’s a matter of integrity and sailors learn the importance of playing fair and respecting the rules of the game.
6. Learning from defeat
In sailing, the conditions are ever-changing like life. Regattas are held over a few days and every day presents a different sailing condition. As a result, positions are always changing and even during a race itself. Unpredictable conditions also mean that you could go from leading a race to coming in dead last.
You can’t win every single race in sailing, so sailors learn to accept defeat and move on – a particularly important skill since races are held back-to-back.
Whether it’s mastering a sailing manoeuvre or waiting for the next wind shift, sailing is a test of patience. Sailing manoeuvres are so complex that it could take weeks of practice to execute them well, consistently.
Even then, practice doesn’t always guarantee immediate results. On the water sailors sometimes cannot visibly see the results of hard work. This is a key part of being determined, patient while continuing to push yourself.
Sailing is a sport that requires a fair bit of equipment. From bringing your sunglasses, gloves and wind indicator to cleaning your boat before a regatta – sailors learn to take ownership of their equipment from the very start of their sailing journey.
They learn to be responsible for their decisions as well – be it a bad tactical decision or a sail setting.
9. Managing Emotions
Sailing conditions can be quite unpredictable. It is through experiences of winning and losing that sailors gradually learn to control their emotions. They find ways to deal with their feelings – the joy, frustration and fear.
At the end of the day, the best sailors are the ones who are able to best manage their emotions and prevent them from affecting their performance.
Due to its nature, sailing can be quite a time-consuming sport. It takes up a significant amount of time on the weekends too – precious time that could be spent on other activities or with friends. That being said, it builds a sense of discipline in sailors, as they learn to prioritise the little time they have and stay focussed.