>The Courage Companion

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I was recently contacted by author Nina Lesowitz about contributing to what should be a great book about surmounting life’s obstacle course. Below is a description by the author, her questions for me and my answers – buy it when it’s published, not only because I’ll be in it but it looks like a great operating manual for life!

“My co-author Mary Beth Sammons and I are currently writing a book titled – The Courage Companion, and we are interested in including a passage about your solo journey in our book so that your accomplishments may inspire others. I would just need to ask you a few questions at your convenience.

Mary Beth and I are the authors of the book Living Life as a Thank You which was released in November, 2009. The forward was written by Lee Woodruff, a family life contributor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and wife of anchor Bob Woodruff. You can click on the Amazon.com link to reviews and endorsements for the book.

Our book is scheduled for publication in the Fall, 2010 by Viva Editions. Here is a preliminary description:

Looking for the motivation to face life’s challenges? Coming in Fall 2010 to bookstores, The Courage Companion: Living Life With True Power, touted to be the definitive guide to cultivating courage.

The authors have gone to the front-lines of adversity and fear to surface those brave hearts who have taken action before they are forced to, confronting and overcoming their fears in ways that inspire us all. From world class athletes, to spiritual teachers, to cancer patients, to ordinary people who in extraordinary ways have transformed their lives, these stories help lead us to our best lives. Enhanced with motivational quotes, expert advice, and exercises, this courage guidebook will help you turn apprehension into action to reap the many benefits of living your life with guts and gusto.”

-Best Wishes , Nina Lesowitz

1: What am I doing now?

I did the Sydney Hobart Race in December 2009 with Jon Sanders (my 3rd) finishing 4th in class and 14th on corrected time out of 100 boats. I will do the race again at the end of this year in an attempt to win a 2nd time (I won in the 1999 race).
I’m also hoping if budget permits to race my 4th Mini Fastnet race this summer while pursuing corporate sponsorship for continued Open 650 racing and another solo around the world record attempt in the next few years.

2: Can you please describe how you felt embarking on a solo journey?

I was quite emotionally numb actually – just very anxious to finally get underway as I’d been hoping to leave since age-15 and had already circumnavigated countless times in my mind what with the planning and anticipation of the many challenges to come. In most ways – the battle is won before-hand and particularly in my case the actual achievement of reaching the start was by far the biggest obstacle vs. those encountered along the geographical ‘lap’ of the planet.

3: How do you get past fear on rough seas?

Not to sound daft but it’s a known environment due to my vast prior conditioning at sea so I’m more afraid of telephones and siren songs ashore versus storms etc as ‘out there’ I simply do what I’m accustomed to doing which is obviously your best and nothing more. In my mind it is far simpler as bullshit simply doesn’t work at sea but it does rather nicely ashore – another reason why I’m afraid of telephones and things on land!

4: What was your scariest moment during your solo voyage?

As I said above – the trip itself is won for the most part before it physically begins during the big preliminary conceptual decisions such as routing, type of boat, budget etc. Strategic decisions impact the results thereafter and once decided upon in the beginning can’t be retracted once the launch button is pressed.
The actual scary part for me was in allocating the needed budget to go in the first place versus the idea remaining a pipe dream as it does most unfortunately for many.

5: To what do you attribute your ability to get past fear and accomplish these goals?

The longer I’ve done this – the better accustomed I’ve gotten to understanding what are productive levels of apprehension and at what point I believe it becomes detrimental. Generally, the worse it gets the more I laugh! A little or better yet – allot of humor can combat fear far better than anything else. So I tell crew in a tough situation – “You know it’s getting pretty bad if I’m laughing hysterically!

6: What advice do you have for others who may be contemplating a similar voyage?

It’s often been used but needs to be drummed into our mind until we really believe the words and what they mean. Never give up, don’t take no for an answer and remember above all persistence and hard work will ultimately enable the means to achieve your goal to materialize usually just when you thought all hope was lost. With yet further emphasis on the word – persistence.

Also do it for the right reasons – a record pursuit is fine it might open professional doors later but first and foremost you need to do it because you love your pursuit and would rather do nothing else. If it’s reached the point where achieving your dream has become your reason for living or a kind of personal religion – you are probably ready to ‘not take no for an answer!’

7: Where do you live now? Age, etc.

I’m 34-years old now and I divide the bulk of my time between racing in France aboard my Open 650 race boat, Hawaii when I have a yacht delivery and Australia near Christmas when I race the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

8: What are your next goals?

My immediate goals are to race the next Sydney Hobart with Jon Sanders and further down the yonder blue road to race the solo Transat 650 from France to Brazil aboard my boat in France, my around the world race / time-trial – ‘The Race 650’: http://www.race650.com, the nonstop solo around the world race – the Vendee Globe Challenge: http://www.vendee-globe.org/en, to crew in Frenchman Bruno Peyron’s ‘NO-LIMITS’ circumnavigation race for 100+ foot crewed multi-hulls aptly named – ‘The Race’: http://www.therace.org in 2014 or ’18. With perhaps another solo record tossed in for good measure! Ambitious yes, will it all happen – probably not but if you aim for the stars you might land on the moon!
To follow my future adventure you can find me on: http://www.liquidflight.net

9: Any overall thoughts/comments you want to add about your choices, lifestyle, etc?

Words are cheap, but I believe humanity should pursue their personal dreams to the ends of the world. Thus, once you’ve achieved your goal it illustrates the very essence of your identity – an expression of self-fulfillment and transformation to what you long intended to become, much like a painting from a Renaissance master. Read the book – The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier to better grasp the concept.

For me, the fabric of the world’s oceans are a canvas upon which I draw brush-strokes with the yacht’s wake, the boat and extension of my-self and my paintbrush … And I have yet to sail my ‘signature’ voyage.

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