aoife hopkins flying

Top 10 Tips For Sail / Study Balance

Top 10 Tips For Sail / Study Balance

with Aoife Hopkins

You may have read the profile piece on Aoife Hopkins in Afloat HERE and how she balances her sailing and studying with fantastic results. To all of you who need inspiration, we’ve written up 10 top tips here :

  1. Start planning early. Aoife began planning for her Leaving Cert at the start of fifth year when it became clear she’d be missing a lot of school for sailing.
  2. Have clear goals. Allow enough time to excel in both studying and sailing by getting enough time on the water – in Aoife’s case this was at least three, but usually four or five days on the water a week – and enough time to study well, including before school.
  3. Don’t be afraid to reassess what you see as “normal” school time. As Aoife points out, “Academics isn’t just about being present in class, it’s about applying yourself to it. I found that if I caught up on homework/study every night, even having missed class, while also writing notes and doing exam questions then I was in the clear. I studied at all the events, my school organised for me to get ebooks for all my subjects. I think with athletes, we’re more focused than the regular student and manage time much more effectively. This means getting more study done in less hours (put down the phones people!)”.
  4. Get a support team. Get your sailing coach, your school year head and your school principal/vice principal to sit down and go through your weekly routine in order to address any conflicts cropping up. This allows both parties understood how much is expected on either side, and then you can plan any adjustments. Parents and friends may be able to cover the logistics, PR and sponsorship aspects of your campaign, leaving you to focus on sport and study.
  5. Plan, plan, plan. Every Sunday night, Aoife blocked out her week in half hour blocks to ensure the correct balance of sailing/fitness/study/relaxation, making her far more time-efficient .
  6. Include training into your everyday routine. For example, cycle to and from school instead of sitting on a stationary bike.
  7. Use competitions as a break. Aoife did the Hyeres World Cup one month before the Leaving Cert started which got her out of the ‘LC funk’ that starts to creep up in April and May of sixth year. She came home on the ‘home run’ and had enough energy to get through the exams.
  8. Keep working. Between Halloween, Christmas, mocks, February midterm, St Patrick’s, Easter and Graduation, the last year of school is actually quite short.
  9. Use training as your time to switch off. Most other Leaving Cert students don’t have a real outlet – it’s an advantage to be able to get on the water for two hours getting fresh air and a workout, completely switching out of ‘school mode’.
  10. Studying and sailing are two sides to a coin. They can balance each other out perfectly if done right, but you need to give each aspect the time it deserves.

Photograph: Simon Jourdan / Dz Voile