That kid in school, the one at the back of the line, a body that’s grown faster than the rest, gangly arms and legs, puppy-fat still clinging on, greasy-round-the-edges, doesn’t fit neatly in, not quite a geek not quite ‘cool’. Always last to be picked for the sports teams, Faking-sick-notes-to-escape-gym-class and their-grandpa-died…again…well that kid, that kid was me.
To say I hated school sports is an understatement. I detested it and would do just about anything to avoid it. The sports teachers gave up on me as a lost cause. Looking back I can see how they systematically trampled my confidence and did pretty irreparable damage, calling me hopeless and making me run circles in my knickers for ‘forgetting’ my sports kit…! I hope girl’s sports coaches have moved on since those days….
However, I was one of the lucky ones. I had a secret, I had two lives. In one life, during term-time I was a lonely suburban city girl, bunking off sports classes and in the other, at weekends and every school break I was in Devon. There I was a countryside-sea-loving-ocean-water-baby-swimmer-surfer and SAILOR. I was about 10years old when I first started sailing dinghies in the English Channel of the Devon coast. I LOVED it. I made friends, in the city I hardly had any friends. I loved pitting myself against the elements, learning about the wind and tides. I loved the simplicity and the adrenaline I found in the sport. It was a million miles from hockey pitches and grimy changing rooms at suburbia-school.
Sailing showed me that ‘sport’ is not another term for ‘public humiliation’, that it can be an amazingly empowering and health-giving experience and a JOY to take part in. Sailing founded in me a life-long love of the sea and all water sports. Sailing re-built my confidence, not just in sporting areas but in all of my life. For the rest of my childhood I sailed whenever I could and Devon waters become my safe harbour and my favourite place on earth. Remaining so to this day.
I went to University, about as far away from the sea as one can get on this Island, which was a shame and meant I slowly sailed less and less, returning to Devon when I could. Fitting in a week here and there on a variety of crafts. I surfed a bit instead, trying to get my Ocean-fix but never sailed as regularly as I once had done.
Finally, a decade on and I find myself living by the sea again, another harbour I call home, just down the road, full of clinking rigging and buoys which I have come to love. Time and Money, my superfluous excuses for not finding a boat to sail here. Hence I think it would be a wonderfully romantic way to re-kindle my sailing love by finding a boat, building a crew and setting sail from Brighton to Salcombe, Devon, where I first put on a lifejacket and wobbled aboard a Topper. I will do it!
So if you fancy a little English-Channel adventuring, give me a shout, I need a crew! One Love Sailors!