Crawley Mariners Newsletter February 2017
Well a new year and a new beginning, and after the Olympic Games, 2017 certainly came up quickly! It is always easier to see everything in hindsight: our vision becomes 20/20 and therefore it is important to take every experience as a learning opportunity and this is exactly what I intend to do in my new role as Technical Director for Malaysia sailing where I will have responsibilities from Optimist right up to Olympic classes. For me training and development have always been of great interest and I feel very lucky to have worked the past 20+ years as a sailing coach. This new opportunity really gives me the chance to use my past experiences to help a future generation of sailors. Malaysia has been very keen to develop sailing: the climate is perfect and they hosted the World Sailing Youth World Championships (yes, I know it is a mouthful) at the venue where the Malaysian National team are now based (and my home for much of this year). CMYC has always had its share of successful sailors and in recent years, my generation has produced both Olympic and Paralympic medallists, an amazing achievement. The thing for me is to look back and think, what would this, an older version of myself tell the younger me back then… to be the best I possibly could be. This is the fundamentals of my new job and is just as relevant to sailors on Hedgecourt lake, as it is to those half a world away. So, I decided my first focus was 3 areas, perhaps those we don’t tend to think about until it is too late:
Fitness and Injury
Injury is something that often we don’t think about until it is too late, the damage is already done… sometimes irreparable. I have seen this both in myself and in those I have worked with. It has no respect for talent or desire and looking back you can clearly see the start of career ending injuries that didn’t seem important at the time. If you have pain see a physio, now, don’t delay, you only have one body, so take care of it. Laser sailing is hard on the body, as indeed is any sport. If you don’t push yourself, those who do will beat you on the water. I recently updated my website www.jonemmettsailing.co.uk many thanks to the club’s own Allan Pemberton and I was looking back at the archive. I know my shoulder issues started more than 10 years ago, and in the end I had a neck operation just a few months after my 30th birthday. These are now lost from the archives but are surely a time I will never forget. So, it was hugely upsetting to see the same thing happen to my sailor, Lijia Xu (Lily) from China. First the shoulder problem that started in the London games and forced her initial retirement. Then she returned to the sport and within 2 months of sailing the neck problems started, forcing her to miss sailing for weeks at a time and is still preventing her from returning to sailing even now. So, my message to the sailors of Malaysia and indeed anyone, is remembering if these injuries can happen to elite athletes then they can happen to anyone and that means YOU.
You wouldn’t try and play a game without reading the rules or at least I hope you wouldn’t. You would certainly be unpopular in a game of football if you picked it up and started to run with it or in a game of netball if you started kicking the ball. The latest version of the rules has now come out, so please, please, please throw your old rule books away and get the new version. In the UK, we are generally good at sticking to the rules, it is cultural thing, although sometimes at the club people are unwilling to protest because they feel that the racing is not that serious, but for the future of our young sailors we need to have good habits and to lead by example. People can often get tarred with the same brush and I was shocked in China when the Chinese Team leader was telling sailors to lie in the protest room during the World Championships to try and avoid disqualification. For me I always push my sailors to be honest to play fair and win that way and I know Lily always obeys the rules but I do wonder at the Olympics whether there could have been some subconscious prejudice against her because of the way other Chinese sailors had behaved in the past. So, to all young Mariners, respect the rules.
In order to better ourselves, we must push ourselves. It is no good being the big fish in the small pond (no pun intended). In Malaysia by winning a medal at the SEA (South East Asian) Games which is also hosted by Malaysia this year, will bring a huge bonus, enough to buy a car or even a house. Promotion to the podium squad and a salary over 5 times the National average (and therefore in real times 5 times more than the RYA squad sailors). This for sailors who at the time of writing (although I do hope to change this) are very unlikely to qualify for the Olympics. Aim for the moon, and at least if you miss you will end up amongst the stars… never a truer word said. So this year the Malaysian sailors will be travelling to do events in Europe and even the World Cup series if they qualify for a place at the regattas and this is what I would encourage all the CMYC sailors to do. Get out there, whatever your class, do some open meetings maybe even Nationals and then come back and tell other members about it. Wishing everyone happy Sailing, Jon Emmett