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  • Writer's pictureTrish Beauchamp

Sailing Upwind, in Life

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

With the arrival of summer weather, many water activities are popular in New Zealand, where I live.

Sailing was a significant part of my life, and I learned quickly that the wind blows the way it blows. Setting a course of where we want to go in life does not always equate with progressing in a direction moving forward. Sometimes, we find ourselves battling a headwind that requires constant adjusting to the options available to reach our destination. There are times when a yacht is ‘beating to windward’ - a term used to describe a series of tactical manoeuvres called tacks. The boat changes direction by turning through the wind - creating a zig-zag course toward its destination.

Recently, I was using this analogy of sailing with a client. The winds of relationships, good health, and job security may shift or change without warning. We cannot control the wind direction or shifting ocean currents of life events. It is not possible to sail through life without headwinds but, when it appears that the forces of life are working against us, there is a way to sail optimally to get you to where you want to go. We cannot control the wind, but we can always adjust the sails. Sometimes, we’ll appreciate others on board with us and know we’ll have help as we navigate the turbulent waters of life’s journey. We don’t need to sail into unknown territory alone.

An observation made whilst sailing upwind was noticing sometimes our yacht traveled backward when a tack was made. I was not at the helm (I know my limited sailing expertise!) but I was reassured by my sailing partner that the aim is always to tack the boat through the wind whilst losing as little speed as possible. Finding your upwind sweet spot is when you sail against the wind most efficiently - utilising the ocean and weather conditions to your advantage.

How do we achieve this in life?

Finding our sweet spot in life, when it feels like we are constantly beating into the wind, may seem like we go backward before progressing forward. When we recognise we are working with life's forces and not battling against them our life will sail forward in the direction we want to go. The goal is not to sail the boat, but rather to help the boat sail herself." John Rousmaniere Trish: Life Coach & Counsellor



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