The Coronavirus is a difficult beast to manage for all of us, forced into idleness and isolation while “under attack” by this virus. For few, however, the ban on active live outdoors is so hard felt as for athletes and sailors. We live by the water and by the wind. Staying inside is almost a punishment. Before this, olympic sailors and
professional athletes where living in a world apart, fully focused on training and
competing. In this sense, the Coronavirus and all the measures to stop it have changed
our lives dramatically.
As a coach and educator, it has been difficult to get athletes to understand that they
had to change completely their perspective and mental set up, and to make the best out
of stormy waters. My first advice has been for all to fully obey the laws and measures
imposed to contain the virus: this is no time to argue or to rebel. So: no clandestine
sailing early morning or at night, in the hope of not getting caught. I was pretty
brutal in pounding in that respecting the rules was a priority. My second message was
that this is a “first-time” situation for all of us, and that adaptation would be the only
way forward. Once this hard to swallow change had been mentally metabolized, all of
them had to rely and focus on their own stationary bikes, rowing machines, weight
gear, and elastics bands as the only foreseeable training tools. The open sea and the
well-equipped gym are now swapped for a corner in the bedroom or the balcony.
Once those two messages got through, my coach role changed completely. My current
role is basically one of time manager and psychological advisor. I try to make the best
of the situation, maintaining discipline and an active routine as a way to get the best of
this mess. Regular and focused training helps the days go by, gets the sailors fitter and
stronger, and helps keeping the sleeping pattern and eating rhythm. It is a way to make
sure that once we will be allowed to go back sailing we will get the best of our magic
Adaptation and positive thinking the only way through. And in this sense, we cannot forget any (small) positive aspect of all this. The Finn will stay Olympic one more
year, we can enjoy our magic class some more. We will have more time to prepare for
the next olympic (whenever that will be). Even my personal rowing times are getting
I keep in touch with my athletes as much as I can, supervising, but also sharing with
the usual dose of loud talk, bad jokes, and loughs. This reduces the negative input
from social media and media in general. We all know this is bad, nothing we can do
to change what goes on around us. But losing our positiveness will only make it
We are all bombarded with statistics about the virus and with the reality of disease
and death. That is nothing new: death is something all of us will be confronted in life.
Keeping the perspective helps not to lose your mind: about 8 million people die each
month around the globe, the virus is just another way to end our journey. Heart
diseases, cancer of all kinds, tropical and poor-country-diseases, among many others
take high tolls every day. Accepting the very nature of life, accepting that the turn of
our wheel has a start and one end is not easy, though once accepted we can enjoy
every minute of what we do.
Tonight, my daughter Viola decided to cook dinner for the whole family, and I made
the dessert with the help of my four-year-old son Federico. We all ate out on the
terrace, thanks to the warming weather. A couple of days ago it was my wife’s
birthday, and we celebrated it with a very simple, yet very warm, family party. It is a
hard time, but it is also a time of refocusing on basic values and real affections.
Sometimes I find myself thinking about all the hyperactive happenings of the recent
past. It all seems distant now, while in this forced “stay-at-home” bubble.
For now, Devoti Luca is back, writing about our sport and the mind, about sailing and sailors! I have not written in a long time. I was so pissed off with the ones running our sport that I preferred to silence myself rather that entering a blind feud. But all this is less
relevant now, given the current times and the current challenges.
Dream of sailing and stay safe.
Your writer, Luca Devoti