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At a young age, my family introduced me to sailing a small sailboat called the Optimis. My parents wanted me to benefit from living by the water and experiencing the excitement of the ocean. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite prepared for all of nature’s surprises. Being young and open-minded, I was excited to sail, although there was a sense of apprehension too. Overcoming fears is one of life’s most significant challenges.

It was a bright sunny day with moderate winds. I arrived at the sailing camp called the Sailing Squadron. I was optimistic about becoming a sailor. The campers gathered together after getting rigged up (preparing the boats), and we discussed the expectations for the day, and the water course. I felt confident because it wasn’t my first experience sailing. Next, we all put our life jackets on, raced down to the beach, and launched the boats. We began sailing around the dock, under the bridge, and through the channel. We finally made it to the Gulf of Mexico. The wind picked up, and white-caps slapped against the hull of the small sailboat. It was exciting, surfing the waves and basking in the sun; it felt as if nothing else existed.

We continued to sail in the Gulf and attempted to locate calmer waters. We tried to circle the coach boat, but the waves began to rise. I neglected to pay attention, and suddenly I realized that I had drifted away from the sailing squad. I attempted to follow the sailors, but the waves were overpowering. They kept pushing me out to sea. I became concerned, but I thought I could handle it. I was wrong.

The wind was strengthening along with the waves; I was very far away from my fleet. On top of that, my boat was filling up with water due to the rough seas. I started to have a panic attack and screamed at the top of my lungs. I was sitting in the boat for about 30 minutes, which seemed like a lifetime. I yelled at the top of my lungs to my sailing coach, hoping she would hear me and guide me into shore. Finally, she approached my small sailboat. She screamed, “I lost my phone while trying to come to you, stop screaming and come to the group!” I could not catch my breath. Finally, she towed me to shore. I was so traumatized after this event that I avoided the water until approximately four years later.

I finally summoned the courage to sail once again. I learned the techniques of sailing and became confident. Presently, I sail the c420 and Laser 4.7, and I love it. I still have a tiny phobia of sailing, but I have learned to face my fears of the wind and sea. They all work together with one another. Facing your apprehensions may be scary, but once you overcome the fear, you feel successful.

© Ayla Edwards. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.

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