By Malcolm Page, Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor
People often ask me what makes a winning sailor. I mostly get the impression that they are after some special Jedi “mind trick” that mentally makes someone a champion.
With the focus these days on sports psychology, people often forget that before you worry about your mind, you first need to worry about getting the basics right.
For me, success in sailing (well any sport actually) can be likened to a three-legged stool. You must have firm balanced legs before you can work on the seat.
Without each leg being equally attended to, your stool won’t be balanced. And without your stool, you don’t have anything to sit on and think!
For sailing, the three legs of the stool can be likened to:
- Speed: Personal physique (height/weight), Fitness, Technique, Equipment, Technical tuning.
• Racing Ability: Tactics, Starting, Strategy, Fleet management.
• Environment: Geography, Current, Wind, Accommodation, Supermarket, Language, Regatta specifics.
A good example of this from my past was our preparation for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. My teammate and I worked very hard on our racing ability, but for some reason ignored the fact that we were slower in light wind.
We did not balance up our speed and our environment legs. Needless to say, it did not end terribly well for us.
It is important to remember to work on all three aspects of good sailing – how to sail well, how to sail well against others, and how to sail well at the regatta venue.
Then you can start to think about Jedi mind tricks.