Please select your home edition
Edition
Clipper Ventures

Sailors in lockdown - reflections of an Olympic medalist and Coach

by Luca Devoti 5 Apr 06:23 PDT 6 April 2020
Squall hits fleet in Race 10 - 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus © Robert Deaves

There is little doubt that the coronavirus will have a lasting effect on the sailing community - positive and negative.

Italian born Luca Devoti, now resident in Valencia, the larger than life Finn Olympic medalist, America's Cup sailor, coach, boat builder and writer shares his thoughts on the Lockdown and how it has affected him and the people in his bubbles.

The Coronavirus is a difficult beast to manage for all of us, forced into idleness and isolation while “under attack” by this virus. For few, however, the ban on active live outdoors is so hard felt as for athletes and sailors. We live by the water and by the wind. Staying inside is almost a punishment. Before this, olympic sailors and professional athletes where living in a world apart, fully focused on training and competing. In this sense, the Coronavirus and all the measures to stop it have changed our lives dramatically.

As a coach and educator, it has been difficult to get athletes to understand that they had to change completely their perspective and mental set up, and to make the best out of stormy waters. My first advice has been for all to fully obey the laws and measures imposed to contain the virus: this is no time to argue or to rebel. So: no clandestine sailing early morning or at night, in the hope of not getting caught. I was pretty brutal in pounding in that respecting the rules was a priority. My second message was that this is a “first-time” situation for all of us, and that adaptation would be the only way forward. Once this hard to swallow change had been mentally metabolized, all of them had to rely and focus on their own stationary bikes, rowing machines, weight gear, and elastics bands as the only foreseeable training tools. The open sea and the well-equipped gym are now swapped for a corner in the bedroom or the balcony.

Once those two messages got through, my coach role changed completely. My current role is basically one of time manager and psychological advisor. I try to make the best of the situation, maintaining discipline and an active routine as a way to get the best of this mess. Regular and focused training helps the days go by, gets the sailors fitter and stronger, and helps keeping the sleeping pattern and eating rhythm. It is a way to make sure that once we will be allowed to go back sailing we will get the best of our magic sport.

Adaptation and positive thinking the only way through. And in this sense, we cannot forget any (small) positive aspect of all this. The Finn will stay Olympic one more year, we can enjoy our magic class some more. We will have more time to prepare for the next olympic (whenever that will be). Even my personal rowing times are getting better. I keep in touch with my athletes as much as I can, supervising, but also sharing with the usual dose of loud talk, bad jokes, and loughs. This reduces the negative input from social media and media in general. We all know this is bad, nothing we can do to change what goes on around us. But losing our positiveness will only make it worse.

We are all bombarded with statistics about the virus and with the reality of disease and death. That is nothing new: death is something all of us will be confronted in life. Keeping the perspective helps not to lose your mind: about 8 million people die each month around the globe, the virus is just another way to end our journey. Heart diseases, cancer of all kinds, tropical and poor-country-diseases, among many others take high tolls every day. Accepting the very nature of life, accepting that the turn of our wheel has a start and one end is not easy, though once accepted we can enjoy every minute of what we do.

Tonight, my daughter Viola decided to cook dinner for the whole family, and I made the dessert with the help of my four-year-old son Federico. We all ate out on the terrace, thanks to the warming weather. A couple of days ago it was my wife’s birthday, and we celebrated it with a very simple, yet very warm, family party. It is a hard time, but it is also a time of refocusing on basic values and real affections.

Sometimes I find myself thinking about all the hyperactive happenings of the recent past. It all seems distant now, while in this forced “stay-at-home” bubble. For now, Devoti Luca is back, writing about our sport and the mind, about sailing and sailors! I have not written in a long time. I was so pissed off with the ones running our sport that I preferred to silence myself rather that entering a blind feud. But all this is less relevant now, given the current times and the current challenges.

Dream of sailing and stay safe!

Your writer, Luca Devoti

Website/Blog devotiluca.com

Related Articles

Celebrating 50 years of the Finn Masters
This week should have been the 2020 event in The Netherlands This week should have been the 2020 Finn World Masters in Port Zelanda, in The Netherlands. Entries were approaching 250 when the decision was made to cancel back in March, with more than 300 Finns expected to turn up. Posted on 1 Jun
The next stage of return to training
British Sailing Team prepares following the latest Government guidance for elite sport The British Sailing Team is preparing to move to the next phase of its return to training following the latest Government guidance for elite sport. Posted on 29 May
2021 Finn World Masters will be in Medemblik
Planning well underway and it should be a great party The International Finn Masters Committee is delighted to announce that the 2021 Finn World Masters will be held in Medemblik, The Netherlands. Posted on 15 May
Watch the Finn on Finn TV
Today was the day that the 2020 Finn Gold Cup was scheduled to start in Palma Many things are being remembered today, but for Finn sailors it is particularly poignant as today was the day that the 2020 Finn Gold Cup was scheduled to start in Palma, Mallorca. Posted on 8 May
Digging into the Finn Class archive
1000s of photos, with some dating back to the 1950s During this time of waiting and restrictions we have been digging deep into the Finn Class archives. These date back to the 1950s and contain thousands of prints and slides, and tens of thousands of digital images. Posted on 3 May
Introducing the 2020-2021 Canadian Sailing Team
And Canadian Sailing Development Squad Sail Canada is proud to announce the members of the 2020-2021 Canadian Sailing Team and Canadian Sailing Development Squad. Posted on 2 May
Stay at home Finn reading
The class put together sets of back issues of FINNFARE Even though most Finn sailors cannot go Finn sailing at the moment and are being encouraged to stay at home, there are a lot of Finn books and magazines that can entertain you while we are all waiting for racing to restart. Posted on 21 Apr
SOF Hyères goes virtual
All possible options have been scrutinised As for today, the organisers are working on the 2021 edition together with their sponsor Toulon Provence Méditerranée and with World Sailing for an outstanding edition next year. Posted on 16 Apr
BOA and RYA issue joint statement
On athletes selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games The 15 sailors already named to represent Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will remain the same for the rescheduled Games in 2021, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) have today confirmed. Posted on 14 Apr
World Sailing cancelled Hempel WC Series Final
World Sailing and JSAF discussing future events at Enoshima World Sailing's Board of Directors and the Japan Sailing Federation agreed on the cancellation following the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee's decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Posted on 2 Apr
Zhik 2020 AnneMarieRindom FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2020 FOOTERCyclops Marine 2020 - FOOTER