Sail Your Own Course

PicMonkey Collage sailingBefore I was a mum I imagined that my new role would be about teaching my kids stuff, like telling the time, tying their shoe laces  and good manners.

I saw myself as a provider of knowledge, hoping that my children could learn from my mistakes. I could give them a precious heads-up on what not to do (like don’t try to adopt a dog without your mum knowing)!
In some ways I was right, the parenting journey has been about learning.

But I’ve been learning from them!

I was recently reminded about the power from learning from my children at a sailing regatta a few weeks ago. My 14-year-old has been competing in dinghy racing for the last couple of years and like most parents we are his greatest supporters. Regattas run over 2 or 3 days, and are a gruelling affair of rigging, racing and recovering!

This was Biscuits first anniversary regatta, exactly a year ago he’d sailed at the same place (Royal Perth).  So it was a sizzling weekend full of potential and following a promising first day of racing Biscuit was keen to get back on  Sunday to push forward. There was an expectant buzz in the car as we drove that morning; today was all about getting a top ten position.

With the first race delayed it was a slow crawl to the start line, with little breeze to help. When racing did begin Biscuit got a good start, but quickly lost speed and finished at the back of the fleet. Disappointed, but determined he could recover it on race number two he was upbeat and optimistic.

But the second race did not go the way he’d imagined either, and he placed in a similarly inglorious position. Wondering if yesterdays successes were simply a fluke, demoralization stated to set in. He crossed the finish line of the third and fourth races with one boat behind him and his face was set in grim disappointment. He just wanted the whole thing to be over!

But to add insult to injury they announced a fifth race and he realised that he was going to have to do it all again. My heart sank, it felt like groundhog day. Poor kid, exhausted, despondent and destined to come in at the back of the fleet.

And now I have to confess to a shameful thought – I thought about skipping that last race.

I was so sure that he would continue to hold his position, that there wasn’t much point watching him claw his way round the course, knowing that he would be getting more and more despondent.

I was so sure that I knew the outcome I almost forgot to believe.

To believe in change.

To believe in him.

I say almost because a little voice in my head questioned me – what message does that send to him? That there’s no hope? That you’re not interested in watching unless he’s winning? That you don’t believe in him?

So it was with humility and admiration that I watched him turn his day around in that single race.

He fought back hard,  held an early lead, broke away from the fleet, and sailed his own course. What did I see written on his face?




He crossed the line in fourth place. From 18th to 4th. On the last race.

My amazing boy, teaching me.

I asked him later ‘what did you do differently? This is what he said:

I sailed my own race and stopped following what everyone else was doing

And therein lies the lesson about self-belief from my 14-year-old.

Believe in yourself, make your own decisions

and don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Maya Angelou quote amazing







  1. The L's Mum says:

    Wow congratulations to your son. Since having my little boy I have to say I am learning a lot about him to, sheer determination and lust for life, and he’s only two. #MMWBH

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks for your comment, it was an amazing thing to witness and a point of personal reflection about who is teaching who! Your little boy will amaze and inspire you with each new chapter he enters!

  2. Muriel says:

    That’s quite a comeback! Congratulations to him! I also think that getting our kids to take part in events/races teaches them about effort and determination, which is an invaluable lesson in life!

  3. Jody James says:

    Gave me goosebumps! Was it Nelson Mandela that said ‘ Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.’

  4. Emma Farrow says:

    I thought I’d just read the little sailing story with my lunch- I didn’t expect to need a tissue and be snivelling by the end of it! What a super chap yr little boy is turning out to be 🙂

    • lisakniebe says:

      Hello Em, so lovely to read your comment! Its something special when what you are expecting is turned on it’s head for the better! Sounds like that was the same for you with your lunch time read! Glad you enjoyed it, Biscuit often shines a light when I didn’t even realise I was in the dark x

  5. Veronica says:

    Lisa, I so agree with you on this! I often tell others that my greatest learnings in life have come from my 6 children.
    Good on Biscuit for making a comeback and finishing fourth!

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