On making mistakes or not. And learning from it or not.

Girmantas | Surfing, Windsurfing | May 11, 2016

They say you should learn from mistakes. But how one decides whether it was a mistake in the first place? Season start in Mexico was amazing – five days in boardshorts and 10 great surf sessions down south. Once we crossed to the Pacific – the forecast seemed perfect as far as the internet could see. The first day, though, was a bit flat, thus instead of windsurfing flatwater, me and Marius decided to catch some fish for dinner.

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Yet on the second day – south swell showed up and the fun started from an early morning! Warm up in a secret spot was just perfect to get used to the Pacific and catch some friendly waves. Around noon we went straight back to the water – this time in town, where a fast, but fun sized waves sometimes forms a barrel. An hour later we were exhausted and had to come in for lunch.

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Strong winds kicked in in the afternoon and it was obvious that we would get our sails wet as well. We have unpacked our windsurfing gear, rigged it up and we couldn’t help but notice nice wave sets coming through every once in a while. Since the conditions are perfect for jumping – cross-off shore wind and a ramp 100 yards out from the shore it became quite a tradition to open a session with a forward loop right off the beach. And why wouldn’t you? Manoeuvre is pretty simple, plenty of wind and the waves weren’t too big.

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I did a beach start, went straight into the footstraps and noticed a nice ramp for the first jump. Take off, sheet in, everything goes nice, I flip over smoothly, land almost perfectly and… Once it seemed that the trick has gone perfectly, the sail pulled me a little and I’ve heard my front foot ankle pop. I slid the foot out the strap, tried to move it a little and it seemed quite OK, yet I’ve realised that was only illusion. I’ve turned around, and got back to the shore – the season is over. With my hair still dry.

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Pacific water kept my foot cool and I was watching Marius sail for a bit. When it was clear that there’s no sailing left for me anytime soon, I’ve limped back to the car, derigged my sail and grabbed the photo camera. At first I’ve wanted to comfort myself – a couple days and I’ll be back as new. However, somewhere deep inside I had a feeling that the sound and feel of the injury was a sign of something more serious. After Marius finished his session we went straight back home to get my foot cold.

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The swelling and bruising showed up the next morning. It was getting clear what sort of injury I have experienced and a hospital dilemma came up. There’s at least three hour drive to the nearest hospital with an x-ray. To drive for six hours just to hear that I’ve sprained my ankle is a bit too much. After checking the foot out and some googling I’ve had self-diagnosed strong second degree sprain. I’ve decided to monitor progress for the next few days and if it won’t get any better – then go to look for some doctors in the desert.

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A lot of different thoughts come to you while sitting at the shore and taking pictures of some perfect waves as well as Marius on them. From comfort – a few days off the water might be a good thing to heal some other bruises and a shoulder that was feeling funky. And to some questions – did I really have to go for a frontloop on my first season run? Probably not, but would I do it again? Highly plausible. It was not a special situation by any means, rather a lack of luck. Obviously I would have not injured myself not going for it, but perhaps it did save me from something worse?

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A few days ago I was reading about some heuristic traps and the dangers of it. Familiarity is one of them. Once we feel comfortable, we use to bring our guard down and make mistakes. Well known sailing spot and equipment, simple trick and quite a painful outcome. It is very hard to convince myself I did a mistake. No single element indicates that the manoeuvre was unreasonable: I was in full control under the weather conditions, the ramp and loop were not too high, the foot came out the strap easily, thus it wasn’t too tight or too big and so on. So what lesson may I learn if I can’t find a mistake? That you shouldn’t risk on your first day? How do you decide that it’s time to risk then? And why would you do anything if you keep limiting yourself every step? Perhaps it’s a good thing I’ve got my injury early – at least my foot will get better for a long flight home! I hope so.

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