Harken Derm

Making Progress Toward Tokyo 2020

Published on November 26th, 2018

For those with Olympic aspirations, the effort has evolved and heighted to what it is today – essentially a full-time pursuit. If there is an off-season, it is now before training heats up for the winter regatta schedule in Florida.

Canadian Laser Radial sailor Sarah Douglas may only be ranked 21st in the world, but in 2018 she changed the way she is viewed in her Women’s One-Person Dinghy event. Now considered a consistent threat, she reflects in this report on the progress she has made toward her goal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


2018 was probably my most successful and busiest year yet. There are several of factors that have contributed to my success. First, let’s look back on what I’ve done so far in 2018:

• 8 regattas
• 120 on water days
• 31 flights
• New boat purchased
• Qualified Canada for a spot at the 2020 Olympics
• 6th place at the World Championships and Enoshima World Cup

Before I begin reflecting the year, I must thank my coach Vaughn Harrison. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Vaughn. This year, Vaughn worked really hard on the Radial program and ensuring we are making the right steps towards the podium. He altered the way I approach my program, my mindset and many technical aspects. I look forward to continue chasing excellence with Vaughn as we move towards the Olympics.

What worked:

International Training Partners
Starting the year, my priority was high quality training and international training partners. With teammate Brenda Bowskill in school; my coach and I were on a mission to develop relationships and establish training with some other countries. With this, various opportunities presented themselves and I found myself training with some of the world’s best.

On Water Breakthroughs
This year we really focused on certain skills on the water. We had many process goals for each training camp, regatta and even had daily goals. We isolated various skills on the water to ensure we were properly practicing them. I had a couple of breakthroughs on balance of the boat, steering and my digital compass was a game changer.

Mindset
My mindset over my program and on the water was changed this year. Everything was very thought out in my program, from specific skills to work on, to my daily routine. I also worked with my Sport Psychologist Rolf Wagshal on various practices that would help me both on the water and off, such as breathing and meditation. Having a ‘never complain’ attitude, never being complacent and growth mindset made the difference this year.

Support Team
All of this travelling, training and competing could not have been done without a great support team. There are so many people in my support team and people that have contributed to my campaign. Thank you to friends, family, CSIO, Sail Canada, Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club, Helly Hansen, Fogh Marine and so many others who have shown support.

Lessons Learned:

Learn from everyday
We are constantly reflecting on daily goals, mistakes at regattas and becoming more self-aware. Knowledge is invaluable. This year I spent time learning other aspects of training. I highly recommend listening to podcasts; I love Ben Bergeron’s Chasing Excellence. I also read a couple books such as Wind Strategy, GRIT and The Champion’s Mind. If you have any recommendations, send me a message!

Time at Home
I had spent almost 2 months away from Canada in December/January and I quickly found out that I need to have time at home. I can get burnt out and home sick if I spend too much time abroad. It’s different for various people, but for me, I now know to make sure I come home to see friends, family, support team and my bed.

What’s next? To follow along, click here.

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