It’s been 10 months since I’ve officially been a part of the British Sailing Team, and I’m finding my new found freedom slightly strange.
After all, living each day with just one goal in mind, winning a Paralympic Gold medal, drove me forward for 16 years.
Looking back now, I realise how much I appreciated about the team, and how much it shaped me as a person. I learnt a lot of life lessons, and I learnt a hell of a lot about myself. I understand now how much the routine of everything really suited my personality, so taking time to apply that to my new life has been pretty important.
Coming back from Rio, I would be hard-pressed to say I was anything but broken. I spent months looking at myself as nothing more than a failure, wondering how I was going to move forward with my future plans and dreams.
Now 10 months later, I’ve had time to heal, and when I look back, I realise that the British Sailing Team has put me on the path that I’m currently on, which sees me racing headlong towards the Vendee Globe.
2 weeks ago, I headed to Weymouth to pack up the last of the remaining items in my old team’s workshop container, and in some ways it was quite cathartic seeing the 40 foot space that once housed the entire project empty; just an empty skeleton being handed over to someone new.
At the same time it broke my heart a little bit. That container was once a place I would go to hang out, to fix the boats, to run things from, it was the base of our entire operation.
Last week, I set about cleaning the second of our three Sonars. Unpacking the boat, I got a shock and it almost brought me to tears. The boat was in the most awful state, mould everywhere, one of our best sets of sails floating in stagnant water, all ruined…
On the flip side, I realised what a great bunch of friends I have around me. People who really care, who are willing to give up their time to come and help me…
My best friend, Carol, made the 2 hour journey to help me with the boat, even crawling her way up to the bow to scrub the mildew out of the nose despite her claustrophobia, and the boat before her was scrubbed clean by my old school friend, Rachael.
It’s weird really, 16 years of my life, all covered in black plastic and parked in my mums barn.
Now I only have one sonar left to strip out, scrub clean and winterise, and luckily there have already been a few volunteers… I can’t wait to see them heading off to new homes and new adventures, much like I am doing with my Vendee Globe adventure!
What I have learnt through all of this however, is that there aren’t really negative experiences, even though they may feel like that at the time. After all, life is against you or its making you stronger, that decision rests firmly in your hands!
So today I’m off to a rather incredible meeting with someone I really admire, and I cannot wait until later in the week when a few exciting announcements will be coming from the Hannah Stodel Racing team… Stay tuned, and of course,