The Gap

I’ve just completed my final block of training of 2017. It’s crazy how fast the year has gone by. I don’t know if this means that I am getting old, but, it feels like a year doesn’t last nearly as long as it used to! Pretty much everything that I have done since I started sailing in 2009 has been centred on the 2020 Olympics. It is completely absurd for me to realize that we are already at 2018 and the Olympics are only 2.5 years away…


One of the coolest parts about pursing excellence – in anything, is that it requires you to always push your limits. The natural outcome of pushing your limits is that you discover new things. What I have been realizing more and more is that the developments that this pursuit pushes me to make extend far beyond just the technical aspects of racing a sailboat. There are a lot of examples of this, but there’s one that stands out to me specifically. As I look back on 2017, it may be the most valuable lesson that I learned this year.

Without going into too much detail (that’s what the last update was about), my performance at the world championships was a substantial failure relative to the goal that I had set for myself. I’m speaking from quite a lot of experience in saying that failing sucks, but it is a hazard of pushing your limits. When I look back at my sailing career, there is no question that my biggest developments and breakthroughs originate from my most painful failures.  The worlds this year was no exception to that.

In the immediate analysis after the regatta, it was clear to me that the mental side had played a leading role in what went wrong. I was overly focused on outcomes and allowed that to take over everything else. I created all of this unnecessary pressure for myself, and I was trying so hard to achieve this result, and in the end things played out in the opposite way than I intented. This poor performance was the one that made me aware of the detrimental impact that my mindset was having on my performance, but looking back I can see that this played a role in all of the previous failures over the course of my sailing career.

Understanding this, and being aware of it was the first step in trying to improve on it. The real progress, however, is in learning to accept that there is an element of everything that lies outside of my control (still a work in progress…) No matter what you do, or how hard you try, you cannot guarantee an outcome. There will always be a gap between doing everything possible in your control, and the outcome that you want. Some consider it blind luck, others see it as something more meaningful in a bigger picture, either way, the breakthrough for me is in accepting that there will always be some aspect that is outside my control.

This acceptance is not complacency. I still believe that I need to do everything in my power to be successful and I am still very much driven by my main goal (which is absolutely an outcome goal) of winning a gold medal for Canada at the 2020 Olympics. I am starting to understand the balance of how these things fit together.

It remains to be seen what impact this new perspective will have on my sailing performance. Regardless, what I have learned extends beyond just sailing. So far, I have found that I am more happy and relaxed than in the past, and I have already found this to have a positive impact on my training.


Anyways, that’s enough deep theories for one update! Training has ben going really well over the last two months, and I feel that I’ve made meaningful improvements on the areas that didn’t go so well at the worlds. We spent one month training in Cadiz, and one month training in Gran Canaria. I was fortunate to have some top sailors training with me during this period – mainly Milivoj Dukic from Montenegro and Finn Lynch (more commonly known as Flinchy) from Ireland, and that helped to bring my sailing to a higher level. Also, I am very fortunate to have the wisdom of my coach Vasilij Zbogar guiding my program in the right direction.

Now I have two weeks off before I arrive to Miami in early January. I will be racing in the Fort Lauderdale OCR regatta as a warm-up, and then the Sailing World Cup Miami at the end of the month. 2018 will be a very big year as the Olympic Qualification process will begin with the World Championships this August. I’m looking forward to getting back on the start line with the best guys in the world to evaluate the progress that I have made and identify what areas we need to focus on to keep improving!


Wishing everyone a happy new year!!

Thanks for reading,







Fillah KarimComment