Deborah Bennett Elfers | Take the Tiller

At the tiller of my Herreshoff Twelve, Tiger Tale.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, sailing is an art that has been passed down through the generations of your family. Being a sailor is part of who you’ve always been.  But for many of us, who discover our passion for sailing later in life, becoming the sailor we aspire to be can seem like an impossibility.  As for my story, I was practically born on a boat, though on a working lobster boat rather than a sailboat. In my early days I sailed quite a lot on a Sunfish, albeit not very elegantly, as in our little neighborhood “fleet,” the boat was primarily used as a weapon in a wildly popular game of “kill the other guy!”  Who could have imagined way back then, that one day I’d become so passionate about all things sailing?

Later, in college, I trained at a Conservatory as an opera singer, which gave me a thick skin, the relentless habit of goal setting, and the ability to perform under pressure – all very valuable things for an amateur sailboat racer with an eye toward moving up in the fleet.  Yes, I’m that person who goes for it, and who, at the beginning, seemed to have only the most epic of failures. My sincere hope is that by sharing my stories, others might be empowered to take a chance and dare to try, too.  It’s why I decided to create this website. I’m one of those sailors who has been working her way up, little by little, year after year, and who has the bruises and stories to show for it.  I’ve worked hard, and I’ve been one of the fortunate few to have had the help of a dedicated sailing coach and mentor along the way. So, I’m “paying it forward,” as they say, and perhaps the lessons I’ve learned on my journey can be helpful to you, too.

This site bears the fruits of my own research and thinking, developed over years of working to become a better singer, sailor, racer and teacher. You’ll see that my posts often combine my experiences as a sailor and performer, in ways that I think are powerful in an approach to be the best sailor you can be, whatever your current skill level. You’ll find interesting stories here, too — of personal sailing adventures, trailblazing and inspirational sailors, and other things about the sport that have made me curious.

As the blog has grown, I’ve heard from many of my readers that they have found my essays to be helpful to them in all sorts of endeavors – not just sailing – and I take that as a huge compliment. The concepts I write about can absolutely help you become the best you can be, whatever your passion. For me, writing is an unexpected gift, a relatively new passion, and I hope you will enjoy reading my posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

So, come along!  Take the Tiller!  Life’s entirely too short not to be in the driver’s seat, don’t you agree?

Deborah Bennett Elfers


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