Are sailors dyslexic?
Of course not. What a stupid question.
But on my recent vacation at Minorca Sailing, someone posed a more subtle question about sailors and dyslexia. She was at Minorca Sailing to learn to sail and by profession she was a tutor for dyslexic students at a well-known British university. After a few days of sailing lessons she expressed the opinion that sailing was a skill that might be easy for people with dyslexia to learn and wondered if, as a result, dyslexics are over-represented among sailors.
Dyslexia, if you're not familiar with the term, is a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read. Most people don't learn to sail by reading a book, or at least not by only reading a book (although there was one client at Minorca Sailing who was doggedly studying a sailing textbook in between lessons and he was having more difficulty than most at mastering beginner dinghy sailing.) Ultimately you learn sailing, especially dinghy sailing, by hands-on practice and experience. Instruction is often given verbally, so difficulties with reading are no real barrier to learning to sail. Perhaps my tutor friend was on to something?
A quick Google on dyslexia and sailing throws up some supporting evidence for her theory. "Pull the Tiller Toward You" is an article about a sailing school and especially about how well dyslexic kids respond to sailing.
“We found a curious thing along the way with learning disabled children, particularly dyslexic kids,” Mrs. Parry said. “Sailing is an absolute natural for them. There is no reading. It’s all hands on. It’s all auditory.”
And here's another example. Jessica Watson who became the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world last year at the age of 16, is apparently also a dyslexic.
Do any of my readers have experience on this question? Are sailors dyslexic?