Philosophie – Or keeping it real when entering a shitstorm.

Do you believe in telling the truth? Good. Do you believe in radical honesty? You don’t know? Well, if you have the time, please sit down and venture into the world of your own brain for a while and please, whatever you do, don’t think of a blue squirrel trying to crack a red nut until you’re done reading about what happened to us in Vancouver a year ago.

It doesn’t matter what is true or not because the truth is up for endless debate in most circumstances. We’ve experienced that in the very first degree. Last year we went to Canada and Vancouver to sail the 6M World Cup. Hell, we even invested time and money to go there to train and test sails and modify our boat a month before the actual worlds. With good help from the North Sail loft and doctor Theis Palm, the measurer and sailor Don Martin (yes, same name as the cartoonist featured in Mad Magazine and equally skilled but in a different way) and the great big boat builder, craftsman and decorated sailor Eric Jespersen we made changes that gave our thoroughbred lioness some extra power and a broader register. And as soon as we were feeling comfortable with our new suit and the day had come for the worlds to start we were ready to rumble.

Day one, first race, the gun. We own the committee boat since the line is slightly windward favoured and we shoot out of the box bang on time. We control the fleet and lead the race up until close to the second top mark. Then two boats that tested their luck on the left side of the course have gained quite some distance. We tack onto starboard layline with approximately seven boat lengths to go and as we approach the mark, one of them (one is already ahead) enter the circle on port. But instead of giving us right of way by ducking us they try to shoot the mark, leaving us no way to steer clear and since they are head to wind at this point and we are heeling, a shitstorm takes place. Our mast gets caught in their shroud attachment and they drag us with them. Onto the dogleg and towards the offset mark. But not only do they infringe the most basic of rules, they also rip our instrument wand off. We of course pull our protest flag and make it totally clear that we are not going to let this slide, eventually detach and manage to finish second.

What happens after this is deplorable. The protest hearing is a tragic comedy with witnesses not showing up on time, members of the jury being conflicted of interest and the actual crew providing badly drawn sketches of their poor perception of reality. And after what seems like an eternity with a re-opening of the case, both boats get disqualified and our chances of winning the title are gone. Anyway, we keep pushing and sail well enough to end up with the leather medal. We finish fourth. But to be totally honest, the sour taste in our mouths is, yes, sour.

What to do? Meditate? Go Zen? How do you get over a thing like this? The answer is: you don’t. You can’t control emotions like these. The trick is to not fuse with them. Emotions are not a choice. Behaviour is. So we just don’t identify with it. Because the result of doing so is procrastination. And we don’t have time for that. So we acknowledge our thoughts and move on. And even if negative thoughts and emotions are natural processes of the human brain, we refuse to become slaves to our thinking mind.

By the way, were you able to not think of the blue squirrel trying to crack the red nut? Didn’t think so. Theres no point in even trying to eliminate a thought or an emotion, you just make it stronger. The more you focus on them, the stronger they get. They are like quicksand. No point in fighting them, you will only sink deeper into them. Accept them and then let go. Or express gratitude towards them. It diminishes the power of them and impels you to take action despite them. Take something that has bothered you lately. Your girl. You quitting your job. Distill it into a sentence. Now close your eyes and imagine the blue squirrel with the red nut again. Hear him say that sentence with a helium affected voice. Make it sound sillier. Play with it. Try to make yourself laugh. Then stop. How do you feel? If you do this you become less and less a slave to your mind. This way you can easier evaluate your thoughts and feelings from an objective place and decide which ones are helpful or hurtful. We have decided that our experience in Canada is helpful. Cause when we have a really shitty day at the office, we just smile and we say remember Vancouver?, and then we laugh. And we don’t even need to picture a small furry animal with a funny voice or use any of the new age and spiritual smack to get over it. And it´s a great feeling. So thank you Canada and thank you Vancouver. We had a funky time! P.S Since then we have been pretty happy with our performance. We just won Copa del Rey with one race to spare. In the future let’s see if we will have to remember Vancouver or if we can have a completely Canada free regatta. Till next time!