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Lucas Chapman: Letter to my younger self

Published on June 13th, 2021

Presented by North Sails, “Letter to my younger self” is a series told from their ambassadors, and in each article their advice and personal journeys are brought to life by asking the question: if your “now-self” could give your “younger self” advice, what would it be?

Lucas Chapman, Watch Caption onboard the VO65 AkzoNoble Ocean Racing in The Ocean Race Europe, shares his journey of ocean racing as a dream turned reality:

Dear 19 year old Lucas,

Right now you’re sitting in the university computer labs and you’re supposed to be working on the engineering dynamics assignment. Instead, you’re spending your time devouring every video you can from the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race yachts tearing their way through the Southern Ocean.

They’re going at speeds you can’t even fathom, racing through massive weather systems and far off locations you are yet to know of. All of this seems a far cry off the 16ft skiff sailing you did over the weekend on the lake.

You see this year you will do something that will change the course of your life, you will do something that will, from that moment on, occupy your every thought, actions, and steps forward. You will go ocean racing. Don’t worry! At first it will be an easy introduction, a short coastal race from Sydney to the Gold Coast. But then later this year, you’ll do your first Sydney to Hobart yacht race. And boom – you’re hooked.

You’re probably wondering how two simple sailing races can make such a difference in your life, but, believe me, an addiction will be formed that even now, ten years later, I still struggle to explain.

Standing behind the helmsman as he sends it down the coast on that first afternoon of the Hobart race, you will begin to wonder what would it be like to race around the world, just like in those videos you watch from the yachts in the Southern Ocean.

It’s this small insignificant thought that will someday allow you to make it to the top of the sport and race with and against the people in those videos. You will eventually sail on those boats and be one of the people in those videos. Almost seems impossible, right?

I guess it’s time for some advice – after all, how are you going to go from this computer lab to the Southern Ocean?

Rule number one: Back yourself. You need to get your mind and thoughts aligned with what you want to achieve. If you want it and you begin to believe it, then all that’s left to do is to go and achieve it.

Too often you will spend time doubting and wondering if it is really possible to get to that elite level, but thoughts become your actions so don’t waste time on those negative thoughts. Don’t be concerned if you haven’t won a World Title or Olympic medal – there is no right or wrong way to get to where you want to be.

Rule number two: Stay in school. Before you get too carried away and jump on a plane to chase your dreams, it is important to finish your studies though.

Although it may seem like a delay to your career as a professional sailor, these skills as a mechanical engineer will become invaluable in the future. Problem-solving and analytical thinking will become an integral part of what you do and make you a valuable member of many racing teams.

While you’re finishing your studies use the time in between to get as much experience sailing on good boats as you can. Chase down rides doing all deliveries and races you can, the experience and things you pick up along the way will all add to your resume, which in the end will make you a more well-rounded sailor.

Make sure you are multi-skilled, invest in doing some extra courses in basic navigation, learn skills in rigging and sail making; you want to make sure they have no excuses not to hire you.

Over the next five years you will achieve almost every goal you set your mind to. There will be sacrifices, hard times, long days on the road traveling around the world but believe me, it will be worth it.

Rule number three: enjoy every step of the way, enjoy the small moments, the friendships, the incredible places and experiences you are so lucky to see along the way which most people are unable to do. Remain humble in every situation, become less impressed, and more involved.

And when you get to the top, learn to change your game in order to stay in front and always fuel that fire that keeps you motivated to achieve the impossible.

Enjoy every moment and stay safe,
Lucas Chapman

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