Single-handed ocean racer Phil Sharp shares his learnings on keeping morale and motivation high to achieve results in periods of extended isolation
Key messages can be transferred from ocean racing to land as people move into isolation to support the fight against COVID-19. Adapting to change is a daily routine for an offshore sailor, and so Phil Sharp shares his top tips on how to live productively in an isolated and turbulent environment:
1 – Staying positive and looking ahead
In the event of a significant change in the environment or a major disruption, a positive mind-set is essential as it enables you to adapt quickly and keep moving forward. It is important to realise that the competition is also in the same situation and that any advances made in the event of a set-back, no matter what size, can be amplified when things are back up to speed.
One good example of this was sailing through the doldrums in the 2017 double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre from France to Brazil. After a week building a 40 mile lead we reached the equator and became victim to this notorious windless zone. The remainder of the fleet caught up, we lost our entire lead and it was effectively a race re-start.
It was bitterly frustrating to have lost our advantage, but we had to look forward and not give up hope. In the intense tropical heat we battled through tiring conditions by maintaining focus, keeping spirits high, and making the most of every puff of wind to keep advancing. Our competitors faced the same challenge and so even an additional 0.1 knot of speed made a big difference, particular when sometimes we were all sailing at less than 1 knot! Four days later, this very small margin on the fleet converted into a 20 mile lead and our efforts paid enormously. Read on.