Thursday, January 14, 2010

A good read

This Christmas my eldest daughter, Emma  (otherwise know as DLP), gave me a copy of Ben Ainslie's autobiography and it is a good read. I am not a great one for reading just for the fun of reading but every now and then a book really grabs my attention and I have trouble putting it down., This book is definetly one of those books.

I love the story of his first dinghy - an old wooden Oppy that he sailed on Christmas day whilst wearing a duffle coat and wellies - no hint of a lifejacket or proper sailing gear! He was just 12 years old and had never sailed a dinghy before! I could hardly believe it! I am not one for wrapping my kids up in cotton wool but this just made my blood run cold as I thought of what could have happened. But it didn't.
When you think how parents today go to great lengths to eliminate risk from thier children's lives, Ben's parents must seem really careless.
But hey look what a sailor he turned out to be! Maybe its not such a bad thing to let kids take real risks as they grow up - they learn how to assess risk which enables them to reach beyond mediocrity and take hold of the things others only dream about. That is certainly the way Ben seems to go about his racing. The funny thing is that on shore he admits that he is a bit of a worry-wart. I wonder why? Why does he have such freedom on the water but feel so threatened by the possibility of getting it wrong in the rest of life?
I wonder if we are all like this in some way - we have our comfort zones where we feel free to risk getting stuff wrong and then other places where we dare not put a foot wrong?
Anyway its a good read, you get a real sense of the tension of olympic racing and I have certainly picked up a few tips on tactics and strategy among other aspects of dinghy racing.
He also writes about his adventures in the Americas Cup boats and what a contrast it is to go from a small singlehander where everything is done by the helmsman - sail trim, strategy, tactics, helming - the whole shebang - to being just one in a team where everyone has thier own task and all have to mesh and work together or something horrible can go wrong with very expensive boats.
As I said its a good read and if you're looking for a half descent book on sailing I can recomend it.


my2fish said...

nice review. Amazon shows it as an [IMPORT], so it might be hard for me to find in the USA. I checked my local library catalog, and they don't have it either... it looks fairly new, so I'll probably have to wait a while to read it.

I find it interesting he uses the same title "Close to the Wind" as Pete Goss does for his auto-biography. I just finished that one a while back, but haven't done a review of it yet (it was pretty good, though).

cheers, my2fish

nick said...

I think you are right. We do all have only a few places where we stretch our necks out, while we play it safe everywhere else. Personally, I think it's those places where we don't feel alone where we are able to risk more. Whether that "other" is your god, your wife, children, or whatever... I am not a particularly religious man, but I do feel a spiritual connection to something when I'm out sailing, and don't ever feel alone OUT THERE. Maybe that's why Ben is able to go for it so easily on the water but worries more ashore.

Good review. Thanks.

Nick O'Kelly