My sister, Kym, called me this afternoon seeking advice. She told me Captain of her racing boat has literally bumped her off the boat because Kym is too heavy.
I grew up in a sailing family and really cannot remember a time in my childhood when one of my weekend days was not dedicated to being on my grandfather’s 35 foot Erikson. But even after all of the boat shows, summer weekends and overnight sails, I still don’t know how to sail. My older sister, on the other hand, is the ROCK STAR. She can handle a boat and is more passionate about sailing than almost anyone I know.
Kym has always been athletic and competitive. She is also heavy, obese, fat, big (use whatever adjective you need.) Has she let it impede her life or her lifestyle? Not in the least. She is the MOST outgoing and enthusiastic soul I know. Could she be thinner? Yes, and so could I. As far as I know, my sister’s weight has never been a barrier to competing in sailboat races–she has won some and she has lost some. I doubt that the added 50 – 75lbs have really made a difference in the outcome of a race.
Anyway Kym has been sailing with this group of women on a J-100 for over 2 years. She has learned a lot from sailing on an all female crew and I think has genuinely enjoyed her time with them. She invested in courses on the specific boat type and how to be a better member of a J-100 crew. Imagine her surprise, then, when, after an entire season of sailing, her Captain told Kym that “Sorry, there is no room for you on the boat. Find another boat.”
My heart broke just a little bit when Kym described the EMAIL that she received. I wondered about the captain’s true motive: Was Kym really weighing the boat down? Was there a personality conflict or other conflict of which Kym was unaware? Maybe Kym really was the weakest sailor of the bunch and the captain had a chance to replace her with someone with more experience? Was sending an email the best way to treat a “friend” or even a close acquaintance?
Kym asked me how I would handle the situation. And, to be truthful, I honestly don’t know. On one hand, I wanted to tell her to flip the captain the bird, grab whatever gear she has stored on the boat and get the hell out of Dodge. Even if there was a reason other than Kym’s weight that the captain wanted find a different crew member, sending an email is really cowardly and a great way to lose a friend and sailing/drinking buddy. An email? Really?
In the end, I recommended that Kym take the high road (I know that it sucks) and not burn her own bridge. I told her to thank the captain for giving her the opportunity to sail on the boat and let her know that she learned quite a bit about racing. Kym will now sever this relationship and look for new opportunities (i.e. another boat) on which to grow her sailing repertoire. Annapolis is a drinking town with a sailing problem after all and everyone knows everyone else. Word is going to get out anyway and Kym should make sure that she comes out of the situation smelling like a rose.
I HATE that my sister is hurting. I hate that I feel like my sister was discriminated against because she is not the leanest person on the crew. I want to call that captain and tell her that she is making a HUGE mistake kicking Kym off of the boat right before a really important race. But I don’t care about this captain or her boat–we reap what we sew. I am confident that Kym will find another boat and will soon set her course for a new horizon.
After all, Kym is like a fearless rose, one that continues to grow despite the freezing wind.