by Gordy Bowers

The following checklist and suggestions should get you started thinking about what it means to be a great leader in school and on the water. Rate your self on a scale of 1–10. Leadership is a life skill that will improve with thought and practice.



Have a plan the follow your plan. Be determined to outwork everyone.



Who, when, what, where, why, how and how much. Start with questions to become aware of your sailing environment. Ask general and and specific questions. If you don’t ask right questions you won’t get the right answers.



Your teammates will give you answers. Show respect by listening carefully then rephrase or repeat what you hear to make sure you both have understood.



Enthusiasm, hope, bravery and optimism are great motivators. A positive attitude is the first step towards gaining confidence and concentration.



Knowledge is power. Find answers to your problems: teachers, books, parents, video—anything. Welcome feedback from coaches and teachers. 



When things go bad, hang in there. Remember mistakes are part of the learning process. Take personal responsibility, be persistent, and determined. 



Self control is the ability to stay calm and courageous under pressure, not angry, frustrated, fearful, or depressed. After adversity, relax and just move forward.



Reward your team for effort and skill. Delegate responsibility. Share the credit when successful. Thank your parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches for the advantages you have received.



Learn and be disciplined to push past your comfort level. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, and Timely. Work for excellence. 



Be honest with yourself when evaluating personal progress. Admit your mistakes then take responsibility. Address team goals honestly in order to improve.


In conclusion, believe in yourself and your personal values—first discipline then curiosity, learning, hope, effort/work, courage, responsibility, persistence, resilience, awareness, loyalty, and respect. Good Luck—Sail fast and smart.


Gordy Bowers was the Head Coach for the United States Olympic Team at the 1988 Games when the U.S. had one of its most successful Olympic performances to date, taking home one gold medal, two silver, and two bronze. Gordy is also a two-time winner of the O’Day Singlehanded National Championship, Finn North American Champion, a 5.5 Meter World Champion, and two-time member of the US Sailing Team (68-70/78-80). He has also won a dozen national and ILYA championships in various scow classes and served as Head Coach of the United States at the Pan American Games and Goodwill Games.


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