Educational valences developed by sailing

  Andreea MIHĂESCU ●


1. University of Pitești, Faculty of Science, Physical Education and Informatics, Doctoral School in Science of Sport and Physical Education

2. Clubul Nautic Român

Key words: yachting, development, education, educational valences


This paper is intended to determine and highlight the skills and competences a sportsperson acquires and develops after practicing yachting. After using the bibliographic study method, I highlighted the information used by specialists on navigation and seafarers. We have demonstrated that yachting is the „king of sports and kings’ sport” by listing some of the world leaders or historically resonant personalities who have embraced this discipline either for pleasure or by transforming it into a career. I also emphasized the magnitude of sea-based training programs for people aged between 15 and 30 as well as their contribution on personality modeling. I analyzed, from my own perspective, the activities of a person who practices sail boating and the qualities that they develop from practicing navigation, and at the end of the paper, I used the interview method, by which I outlined the opinion of the best sportswoman in Romania and one of the best coaches in the world.


The aim of this paper is to highlight educational valences of sport by boat sailing and to present and emphasize the competences a practitioner of this discipline can acquire.

Lavrov I.P. states that: „Boat sailing is one of the most complex means of psychosomatic and volitional education, physical strengthening of the body and resistance strengthening to extreme environmental and climatic factors, of concentration education and development of the sense of orientation and spontaneous logical judgment.” (Lavrov I.P., 1966, p. 12)

Jean Bart, the marine writer, alias Eugeniu Botez (Cristea Irina Andreea, 2014), wrote in 1932 that „there is no sport in the world to deliver more complete results than nautical sports. It forms visual acuity, the cold blood, controls the nerves, develops the courage, the initiative spirit to make prompt decisions, it gives the human being the ability to lead. The nautical sport is called the King of Sports and Kings’ Sport as it creates the most perfect harmony between spirit and body.”(Yacht Holidays, f.a.) Lavrov, however, completes this definition, underlining that for sail boats lovers, „yachting is a state of mind. It is the fifth season, the sixth sense or the fifth state of matter aggregation.” (Lavrov I.P., 1966, p. 12)

1. Leadership development onboard ships

To consolidate Jean Bart’s words uttered in 1932, it is enough to take a look at the history of the leaders of the world’s great powers, and we will see that many polished their character in profile schools, trained their ability to make decisions onboard ships and learned to work in teams and to coordinate people and movements during missions at sea. Prince Charles (The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, f.a.) and Prince William (Pierce A., 2008) served in the Royal Navy, George W. Bush (Naval History and Heritage Command, 2017(1)) and Gerald R. Ford (Naval History and Heritage Command, 2017(2)) are among the six US presidents who were part of the U.S. Navy (The Sextant, 2015). We can refer to the common passion of John F. Kennedy (U.S. Navy, 2013) who competed and won many competitions and the one of Franklin D. Roosevelt ( Editors, 2017) who lived many events at sea as it is emphasized in the book „Sailor in the White House” (Cross R.F., 2015).  Tsar Peter I of Russia was a naval officer, an admiral and a ship builder (Vîlcovan Natalia, 2012) and mentor of the first yachting club, the Neva Fleet (Nautical Magazine, 2010) and he is the one who is spoken about in the US National Association of Yacht Clubs, founded in 1718, 20 years after his death. Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain and a skillful cruising sailor who participated in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich (The New York Times, 1992) and at the age of 79 he became the world champion, when together with his crew participated in the Six Meter class competition (The Local, 2017). His sister, Princess Cristina followed the family tradition and qualified for the supreme race in 1988 (The New York Times, 1992). King Felipe of Spain practiced performance yachting, and in 1992 he was part of the delegation of athletes who attended the Barcelona Olympics (Associated Press, 2013). Albert Einstein and Morgan Freeman there are two other personalities who embraced boat sailing (Reynolds P., 2015).

Mark Rushall, author of one of the most important and complete works on the rules of competitions and tactics on water, „RYA Tactics,” said that „yachting competitions are often likened to chess game.” (Rushall Sailing, f.a.)

This statement is reinforced by actor Matthew Modine, who, after his experience the famous movie „The Wind,” broadcast in 1992 stated that „I learned that yachting is not just a sport that calls for you physically; it’s like playing high-speed chess on a football field.” (Yachting, November 1992, p. 16)

It is said that: „In yachting, a moment of distraction is enough to make the difference between places one and ten. It is vital that athletes keep their attention, look ahead and plan their next moves.”(World Sailing, 2016)

Asked how they train for this result, two South African athletes answered simply: „By the help of the most popular board game: Chess.”(World Sailing, 2016) Hudson and Jim added that they play chess a lot, which helps them to concentrate, think the following moves, develop a strategy with a clean tactic. According to, the qualities that a professional chess player and a good sailor must have are the same: „In a strategy game you need quick thinking in critical moments, emotional intelligence, logic, math and efficiency.” (World Sailing, 2016)   

    2.Navigation programmes to develop personality

Following a personal analysis of the impact sailing has on population education, I discovered that more and more organizations around the world are creating and implementing training programmes for people aged 15-30 , programmes that take place on board large-scale sail ships and last between 30 days and one year. The persons on board sail ships during the training stage can have the chance to take part in regattas, festivals, naval competitions, etc.

Sail Training Ireland (Sail Training Ireland, f.a.), European Atlantic Tall Ships (European Atlantic Tall Ships, f.a.), Sailing Training International (Sail Training International © 2010), Call of the Sea (Call of the Sea, f.a.) are just some of the best-known organizations that structure such programmes, through which participants come to discover and consolidate self-confidence, personal skills, personal responsibility, accept challenges, ability to work in a team, solidarity and tolerance, self-respect and respect to other crew members, develop their general culture (knowledge about navigation, mathematics, geography, tourism, history, culinary, foreign languages, etc.), test their personal limits, courage and exceeding limits. (Sail On Board, f.a.)

Lucia and Theodora Lavru, two of the sportswomen I train, took part in such a programme, implemented by the Polish state, on the training ship “Pogoria” in 2016. They spent a month at sea and on the first day they received a list of their duties on board as well as the work schedule divided into watches. Obviously delighted, they narrated in the Nautical Magazine how they began to socialize in English, but also how they started to learn Polish, how they learned the basic rules of the sailing ship, how to climb the rigging, stretch and gather sails, how to plot charts and follow the course, control the wheel, work in a team and act under pressure and in crisis situations. (Lavru Lucia Maria and Theodora Ioana, October  2016)











3.Analysis of the activity of a person who practices yachting and the valences he/she develops as a result of this activity

 Based on my experience as a sportswoman and coach, I will describe from my own perspective each phase the subject passes through from the moment of his/her enrollment in a club or a sailing school and until an important prize is won, to highlight the educational valences developed by an athlete while practicing a sailing discipline, yachting, in particular.

1.Socializing by integrating the subject in a new team of people of various ages, with various concerns and knowledge, coming from different backgrounds. Besides colleagues, the athlete-to-be is in the position to interact with coaches, sports physician, sports psychologist, physical trainer, etc.

2.Responsibility of the individual by giving him/her a training equipment (craft), which must be kept in perfect working order, which requires regular washing and cleaning, checking with sense of responsibility before each training to make sure there will be no incidents due to material degradation, water damage, replacement, repair and maintenance of damaged maneuvers. Also in order to become responsible and develop the decision-making capacity, the safety rules and regulations as well as first-aid concepts that are presented and resumed on a regular basis during training.

3.Equipping and removing all the equipment from the sailing boat before and after training involves organization and value time, but also the creation of abilities to link the connections between manoeuvers. At the same time, notions of physics and mathematics are developed through this activity by making angular measurements, the surface of the ship’s keel (through the veil belly), the degree the derivative in sunk into water, the position of the athlete in the sailboat, etc.

All these calculations are determined by the environmental factors (wind force, wave height, currents) and the physical parameters of the athlete (height, weight), ie notions of geography and anatomy. Also with the help of mathematical and physics knowledge, the athlete will determine the right time to turn the boat, depending on the angles formed between the craft and the beacon or the opponent. The athlete may change the direction of advancement as a result of other signals, such as wind backing or areas without wind. From this we infer that the subject also develops senses such as visual perception (watches the wind gusts on the water, the areas with lack of wind, the indicators on the sail or mast), aural (hears the wind intensification through the whistle of the shroud, stay or halyard) and tactile (feels wind intensities on his own body).

4. Although depending on the type of boat we sail, this sport can also be a solitary one, trainers have to do teamwork, on land, in order to launch the craft to water and take it off at the end of the training

5. Fair Play spirit is also encouraged, during certain competitions, organizers offer prizes if such actions have been reported.

6. Emotions Control. To be able to fight for a podium place, a sailboat racer must have the ability to detach from the emotions experienced in the previous race, be it joy or sadness, in order to focus on the next race that can begin in 5 minutes. The same mechanism must also be applied during regattas in case of overturning. He/She has to concentrate because there are situations in which he/she can compete for up to 7 hours a day.

7. Maximization of potential benefits. As yachting is a discipline in which nature orders, the athlete must remain focused throughout the race and calculate and set the following movements according to opponent’s maneuvers and weather conditions (gusts or winds)

8. Capacity to react in unpredictable situations (Overturning, boat damage, collisions with other sailing boats, etc.)

Ebru Bolat, European champion in the Optimist class in 2014, gold medalist at European Zoom 8 in 2014 and winning the silver medal at the same competition class in the World and European Championships in 2014 and 2015 respectively, (Romanian Yachting Federation, f.a.)  explains how through this sport, „I have become a bit more patient and focused, or at least I can stay focused for 2 hours continually. I have become more motivated, meaning that I worked a lot when I really wanted something, but I also spent a lot of time on yachting. The results were only seen after 4, 5 or 6 years of consistent training. Yachting teaches you that life / races are not always correct and that you have to be able to handle any situation. There are moments when you lose your confidence, after bad races or regattas.  But once you are confident again in your forces and capabilities, you’re probably at the top of your career or your current skills. (Bolat Ebru, personal communication, 27 October 2017)

Maurizio Bencic, Slovenian coach owner of dozens of medals won in World and European Championships, with the athletes he has trained, including Ebru Bolat, describes yachting as „a way of life, not just a sport. Formula 1 is the most dynamic sport, a discipline where you have to make a decision in a millisecond, whereas yachting is the second in the world from this point of view. In my opinion it is the most complete and complex sport in all respects. It develops our senses, our subconscious, the way we observe and interpret the wind, the waves, the clouds, all the information that tells us something that could influence the final result. Yachting refers to the way we transmit to our athletes all the information and experiences we have lived throughout our lives. Every day we learn something new both on shore and on the water.” (Bencic M., personal communication ,28 October 2017)


Following the bibliographic study conducted in this article, I have tried and I believe that I have been able to demonstrate the strong educational and training character yachting plays in the trainee’s personal development.


Bibliographical References

1.Alistair C., Pete Allison, 2015, Sailing into Character, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

2.Associated Press, 2013, Decision on 2020 Olympics due, on,  accessed on 6.11.2017

3.Bencic M., comunicare personală, 28 octombrie 2017 Editors, 2017, Franklin D. Roosevelt U.S. President(1882–1945), on, accessed on 6.11.2017

5.Bolat Ebru, comunicare personală, 27 octombrie 2017

6.Call of the Sea, f.a., History and mission, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

7.Cristea Irina Andreea, 2014, DOCUMENTAR: 140 de ani de la nașterea scriitorului Jean Bart, on, accessed on 6.11.2017

8.Cross R.F., 2015, Sailor in the white House, Naval Institute Press

9.European Atlantic Tall Ships, f.a., Youth Development, Maritime Education, Marine Scientific Research and Coastal Community Out-Reach Project for the European Atlantic Region, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

10.Federația Română de Yachting, f.a., on, accessed on 6.11.2017

11.Lavrov, I.P. , 1966, Parusnîi Sport – Uciobnoie pasobie dlia trenerov. Istdatelsvo    „Fizicultura i Sport” Moskva, p. 12

12.Lavru Lucia Maria & Lavru Theodora Ioana, 2016, Aventură pe Pogoria, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

13.Magazin Nautic, 2010, Cele mai vechi cluburi de yachting din lume, on,%20accesat%20la%2016.10.2017, accessed on 6.11.2017

14.Naval History and Heritage Command, 2017, George Herbert Walker Bush 12 June 1924,  on, accessed on 6.11.2017 (1)

15.Naval History and Heritage Command, 2017, Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. -14 July 1913 – 26 December 2006, on , accessed on 6.11.2017 (2)

16.Pierce A., 2008,  Prince William sets sail with the Royal Navy, on, accessed on 6.11.2017

17.Reynolds P., 2015, Top Seven Celebrity Sailors, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

18.Rushall Sailing, f.a., Sailing Tactics and strategy, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

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20.Sailing Training International, f.a., National Sail Training Organisations, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

21.Sail Training Ireland, f.a., on, accessed on 16.10.2017

22.The Local, 2017, Ex-Spanish king at 79 becomes world sailing champion, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

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27.Vîlcovan Natalia, 2012, Fapte din viața Ţarului Petru I cel Mare, on, accessed on 16.10. 2017

28.World Sailing, 2016,  My road to Rio, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

29.Yacht Holidays, f.a., Cine suntem?, on, accessed on 6.11.2017

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1.GettyImages, 2016, „King Carlos Attends Sailing Sanxenxo”, on, accessed on 16.10.2017

2.Magazin Nautic, 2016, Aventura pe Pogoria, on, accessed on 16.10. 2017

3.Mirrorprix, 1976, „A popular skipper ”, on, accessed on16.10.2017

4.SailMates, f.a.,  „Why Sail Mates”, on, accessed on  16.10.2017



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