In October 2017, total hero Paul Stevens is sailing 9,000 miles in the Clipper Round the World yacht race to support CALM. We caught up with him to hear more about what helps him handle the rough patches on sea and in life in general.
Why does sailing do for you Paul?
Sailing for me is my escape from the day-to-day grind and pressures of just living. When I’m out sailing, my whole world is just about what’s going on in and around the boat, nothing else matters and the pressures of day-to-day living evaporate. A huge weight is lifted from my shoulders. Sailing is also done at a very slow pace compared to land – it’s where I find time to unwind and relax.
It helps me speak my mind which I wouldn’t normally do. I would normally hide away and allow things to build, fester and eat away at me from the inside.
You’ve said its 20% skill and 80% physical and mental strength. How do you keep your own morale up on the boat?
It’s all about being in a team, working together and not letting each other down. Without your team mates it’s just not possible to sail the boat. There are are so many jobs that need doing to live, sail and race for long periods of time. Being part of the team gives me the morale boost and goals I need to keep going.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Never give up!
You must really get to know people spending so much time and going through such an epic challenge. Are there fights? Friendships formed? Romances?
The Clipperati are one big family and yes friendships and romances are formed. Fights I have not come across, but disagreements yes and when these occur, they have to be nipped in the bud very quickly before they fester. This actually helps me as it makes me speak my mind which I wouldn’t normally do. I would normally hide away and allow things to build, fester and eat away at me from the inside. I have met, and now have, many friends from just doing the training. We are all very much like minded people who want adventure and to have fun. I have one close friend who I met on level-1 training and have since done all our training together. Finding friendship is very much part of this sailing challenge.
Do you find it easier to discuss more sensitive issues when you’re doing something active or challenging?
I wouldn’t say it’s been easier, but it’s more about the close knit team that you trust that allows you to open up. Through sailing, I’ve opened up and told more people about my mental illnesses and to my surprise, I’m not the only one, so it’s been really good to talk.
For me, the scariest moments will be after the race – how I cope with being on such a massive high and then having to deal with the day-to-day grind and pressures of just living again.
What are the scariest and most challenging moments?
Although the weather and sea state will have its scary moments, to me that’s nothing compared to what’s going to happen once the race has finished and I need to get back into the daily grind. Doing this Clipper race will have been, by the time I finish, 3 years in the making, so it’s given me targets, goals and things to look forward to during that time. So for me, the scariest and most challenging moments will be after the race – how I cope with being on such a massive high and then having to deal with the day-to-day grind and again. It’s something that I am aware of now, so I am already planning my next adventures to give myself new targets, goals and things to look forward to.
What life lessons can we take from sailing?
A slower pace of life is good. You’re not alone when you work and belong as part of a team.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
Your teammates! It’s all about the team, and you work hard for each other. There are going to be tough times and it’ll be my teammates that pull me through.
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