To succeed as an Olympic sailor, you must become comfortable at being uncomfortable. You must sail your best amid the challenges of international travel, remaining calm as you navigate local foods, customs, and languages.
Familiarity breeds confidence, an advantage long held by the European sailors. With the bulk of the racing schedule in Europe, the locals to this continent become adept to the landscape as they climb the competition ladder. The best are the best because they become comfortable at being uncomfortable.
While the various regions within North America have unique attributes, it’s nothing like Europe. Miami and San Francisco are different, but not as different as Helsinki, Finland and La Rochelle, France.
Then there’s the travel factor, with the convenience for the Europeans to be staying ‘home’ for so many prominent championships. Heck, North Americans must continually cross their own continent just to stay in phase with the weather – winter in Florida, summer in California.
But even the Europeans can suffer when events are held at the extremes, such as the upcoming Finn European Championship to be held March 12 to 17 in Cádiz, Spain. Located in the southwestern corner of the country, it is a long journey to Cádiz from almost anywhere.
One of the Swedish teams thought they had it rough with a 52-hour drive from Uppsala, stopping only to change drivers and top up with gas.
But that was relatively benign compared to the four days by Norwegian, Anders Pedersen, who also had to contend with several snow storms, sleeping in the car in -15 degrees in Berlin, picking up a new boat in Poland, and an 11 hour traffic jam in France caused by snow and high winds.
So when crossing the USA can be a two day, non-stop drive, at least the Europeans get to occasionally feel this pain. Maybe this can help the North Americans – Luke Muller (USA), Caleb Paine (USA), and Tom Ramshaw (CAN) – amid the 97-boat fleet.
Event details: http://2018.finneuropeans.org