No, I am not Tracie Edwards, Dee Cafari, or Dawn Riley. I lack their sailing acumen. Anne Gardner Nelson and Kathryn Garlick, in the Hobie 16 arena always crossed the finish line while I was rounding the last mark. What about Tania Aebi, Laura Decker, and Greta Thornber? I am not one them, despite my sometimes wishing I was. On a personal level is my hero Sherry McCampbell. Walking along the beach in our hometown we talked incessantly about our plans to complete a circumnavigation. For nearly ten years she has continued to sail a west bound route.
Realizing who I am, and who I am not has been difficult. My belief that I could do whatever I set my mind to was curtailed after I found myself living alone, as a single woman, in a quiet mountain town. New people I met asked, “Where are you from?” This inspired me to list the places I lived. That list morphed into a list of traits I hated about myself. After a few sleepless nights. I realized it all boiled down to this, “I have the best family and friends. I was a spoiled brat. I have hurtful thoughts toward those who accomplish what I fail to.
Now, at 71, I don’t want to hurt anymore. I want to embrace those who succeed where I dare to go. Like the serenity prayer suggests, I will accept what I cannot change and garner the courage to change what I can.
With that acceptance comes an apology to two women who outsailed me. It was at the 1987 Hobie 17 Championship when I displayed my regretful behavior. After several days of racing the cut off to race in the finals was set at 49. I was 50 or 51. Anne and Julie made it to the finals. I turned my hurt and disappointment into anger. I was enraged that they were good enough to continue racing against the best sailors. Did I attend the cut party? Did I wish these ladies luck?
Did I congratulate them?
Nope! Immediately, after reading the roster for the finals, I got into my little red truck and drove myself home. For three days I cried and yelled to the heavens. Why can’t I be like them? I practiced. I devoured every bit of information on efficient sailing that I could hear or read about. I put my heart and soul into that event. Why did they win and I didn’t? Why did Tania Aebi figure out how to sail around the world by herself. Why did Susan Korzewski dedicate herself to racing a Hobie 16? From questioning my racing to questioning my family I raged. Why did my cousin live in the same house she grew up in while I moved every two years or so? Why did my sister raise a family while I chose to be child free? The final question woke me up “What is wrong with me?”
The winds whistled through my mind. A sudden puff of reality woke me. Marlene you are like everyone else. We are all our own champions. We all have struggles, demons and delights. Admiring these people, rather than being them is what makes you the Sassea Sailor. You can’t be them. They can’t be you.