Each Sunday morning the Captain heads out with a handful of other like minded children for "Green Fleet" training. He returns hours later, energised, with salty hair and clear, sparkling eyes. Tales of whales and fairy penguins abound. Sailing truly is a magical sport for children, it is one of the only sports that allows a child complete freedom. As you can see in the photo above, my little 9 year old is the Captain of his own ship, literally. There is no parent sitting beside him dictating how things should be done. He is making decisions alone. The consequences of which he will also have to accept. He is in charge of rigging up his boat and packing it away after each sail. Through all this he has learnt responsibility and discipline. Sailing has also taught him about the environment, he now has a deeper understanding of the weather. The direction of the wind. The risks of a storm.
A friend recently watched Nick as he sailed out one Sunday morning and commented on how quiet it was. There was just the noise of ropes banging against masts and the odd squawk of a seagull. The children themselves are remarkably quiet as they head out. Each one focused, as they pop their centreboards in and settle themselves, preparing for a day on the water. This peaceful quiet is not to be underestimated in this day and age, when children are surrounded by stimulation and noise. Indeed, it is a true break from everyday life for a little boy.
Nick started sailing at 6 years old. I hope he is still sailing at 96 years old. That is the thing with sailing. It is a sport for a lifetime. A sport that will allow him to explore miles of coastline. Feel the wind in his hair and the sun or the rain on his face. A sport that will foster a love of the outdoors and a respect for the environment. A magnificent sport.