Being calm in a storm: Reflections of a windsurfer

Written by Peter Chua, SMU School of Accountancy

Edited by Astha Kalbag, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Peter is the incoming vice president of the Singapore Management University‘s Windsurfing Club. The Windsurfing Club at SMU is the top tertiary institution windsurfing club for 2013. It has garnered more than 10 Golds and 22 medals in local races and is currently in possession of the Tertiary Champion trophy. In this article, Peter reflects on his experiences as a windsurfer, the lessons he has learnt and how it has helped him to grow in his personal and professional lives.

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Back when I first joined the club, it was just a recreational sports club that had no more than five members.  Through stellar leadership, strong systematic coaching, the collective effort of club members, the support of the university, the Singapore Sailing Federation and other stakeholders, SMU Windsurfing has now risen to new heights.

As members of the windsurfing club, we have grown together in character through conquering challenges and striving towards a single larger goal—to steer the winds on the sea.  SMU Windsurfing has taught me three key lessons:

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(1)    Be tenacious: When you fall, pick yourself up again

Windsurfing has a very steep learning curve. In order to learn, you must fall into the water, over and over again. Out in the open sea, you will have to grapple with physical and mental stress, and are left with no choice but to just try and try again to get back onto the board, up-haul the sail, and continue windsurfing. The situation pushes you to  push yourself. This tenacity helped me discover how much more I could achieve when I really pushed myself.

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(2)    Be adaptable: Understand the situation

After learning how to balance on the board and manoeuvre the sail, you are faced with the challenges posed by the natural elements. These elements are constantly changing  and developing foresight helps you to adjust to the changing context of sailing. Windsurfing taught me how not just to cope with the changing context and environment that I was in, but also to also change myself to make the best out of any given situation.

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(3)    Be calm in a storm: Learn to be nimble and be alert amidst chaos

Sailing races are stressful for new windsurfers. During races, racers are left to fend for themselves on their own equipment, left to their own judgement and left alone to brave the elements. Against the stressful backdrop of numerous sailors competing against each other, the racers have to make the correct decisions and execute the team’s tactics with precision or risk losing the race. Mental stress leads to tension and windsurfing equipment do not respond to a stiff (and stressed) sailor. In my experience, while I have been extremely stressed at sea, I have learnt to keep the larger goal in mind and stay calm throughout the journey at sea.

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I believe every co-curricular activity offered at Singapore Management University gives students a chance to gain more fulfilment. The trials and tribulations that I have gone though during my time at windsurfing have given me invaluable experiences and great memories. Moreover, juggling co-curricular activities with academic demands has been a learning experience in itself. Personally, I would advise every student to take to a co-curricular activity that they are truly passionate about and to give it your full dedication. This will not only give you a chance to fulfil your own potential, but also to make a group of friends that will stand by you forever—on land or in the middle of the sea.

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