Siebel Impact Stories from Northern California by Chris Childers

Siebel Impactful Story: Northern California Region

By Chris Childers

M, Oakland, 13 – The San Francisco Bay Area is an incredible place to sail simply because of the variety of conditions to sail in. Plus, the number of yacht clubs and community sailing programs makes it one of the most accessible places to sail in the county. Many folks spend years in one corner of the Bay or another and “specialize” in the local conditions. But for some, getting a completely different experience for the cost of a slightly longer drive is worth it. I’m going to introduce you to a sailor we’re calling “M.” M was one of the latter.

In her third year of sailing, she had spent most here time sailing small keelboats on a nearby lake and had still never been sailing on the Bay. Most of her experience was these very protected waters and without much breeze. M was excited to try out sailing in a more challenging environment – the rougher waters of San Francisco Bay.

She had trouble initially: the RS Feva was more tippy than she was used to, and in the stronger breeze of SF Bay, it was hard work to find the right body position and keep sailing at the same time, all while trying to maintain a lifetime no-capsize streak! As all streaks must, hers ended one afternoon, but she did not get discouraged. Instead, by finding the limits of what the boat could do (and realizing it only meant a salty bath anyway) she found the confidence to push herself more and more throughout the rest of summer camp.

M said, “I was definitely pretty scared of capsizing at first because this was pretty much the strongest wind, I have sailed in. When [the coach] told me to sit on the edge [of the boat], it was scary to move out because I thought the boat would capsize. But eventually I just learned to do it real quick and pull in the sail at the same time. I’m not really sure what I was so scared of.”

M showed how a curious mindset, trying new things and pushing through the uncomfortable can broaden your horizons. Great job M!

C, San Francisco, 12 – This spring wasn’t easy for school age sailors. At a time in their development when their social connections are so important, everyone was stuck inside looking at screens. C was returning to summer camp for his third year and he was very excited because virtual school combined with being stuck at home was boring and he missed hanging out with his friends.

But C didn’t have an easy time adjusting back to organized social activities at summer camp. He had gotten used to doing everything on his own time and had trouble working with others, taking turns and being a part of the group. Even though he had some solid skills, enough to get around on his own in most conditions, he would get frustrated with himself for needing help around some of the more complicated maneuvers.

After several days of C being just skilled enough to wander off but not skilled enough to earn praise for completing the drill, my co-instructor and I changed the game for him. Rather than focusing on skill building, it was clear that C just needed some time to sail around with his buddies in the fresh air, without having to complete an assignment or earn a gold star. C’s behavior problems got better overnight after we set up some rules for how he could safely and respectfully excuse himself from group activity to sail around nearby with a friend. He got the freedom he wanted and needed; we instructors facilitated more fun for more sailors.

His Program Director said “C was having a lot of trouble, and without that change of strategy, C’s behavioral issues might have made it so he couldn’t return to camp. Once he learned how to communicate that he needed a break, his instructors were able to get the whole class working and playing together much better.”

C is learning how to let adults around him know what he needs, not just what we think he needs – an important skill these days. But C is also teaching us: that everybody needs to forget the drill occasionally and remember to just play.

Learn more about the Siebel Sailors Program.

Follow Chris Childers on Instagram at @siebelcoach_chris to stay tuned with Siebel programming in Northern California!