Irina Walker's boating experience began in childhood, motoring up and down rivers of the USSR in family-owned boats. As an adult living in the Bay Area, watching boats out on the Bay from her home got her thinking about getting on the water herself.
In 2016, Irina decided to give sailing a shot and signed up for an Introductory Sail at OCSC, followed by a Basic Keelboat course. She admits, "I didn't like it much. But I felt there was so much potential there that I decided to pursue it. I took a BC course and got to the review stage, I think I failed 5 reviews, but at the same time this was when I started loving it - loving the freedom of going where I want and making decisions. It was awesome!"
For Irina, the hardest part of learning to sail was simply acknowledging that this was a completely new world with a new vocabulary for her to learn. Looking back at the small things that seemed difficult in the beginning, to Irina, earning her USCG license felt like a huge accomplishment.
Irina's favorite aspects of sailing is the experience of a constantly changing environment, the movement of the boat, feeling the wind, watching clouds, noticing currents below, and adjusting sails and course to the effects of these. Being very analytical in nature, Irina enjoys seeing patterns, predicting scenarios for different outcomes, and building favorable outcomes. She finds that with the many interesting and challenging variables found in nature, sailing is an amazing mental workout and relaxation at the same time.
Out of gratitude to the instructors who taught her to sail, Irena enjoys giving back to the sailing community as an instructor herself. Having started sailing not long ago, she still remembers how it feels to be a beginner. Understanding what her students are feeling helps guide her coaching, and watching them progress in their skills and confidence is very satisfying for her.
Irina believes "to teach others, one has to constantly learn and improve oneself," which is why she continually works on developing her own skills. This aligns with another belief of hers: "To win, help others succeed. Nobody needs to lose - everyone wins."
Having explored many countries of the world by motorcyle, Irina thought that after learning how to sail, she would want to buy a boat and sail solo around the world. But, she says "I am so happy where I am now - living on the Bay, sailing with my family, my friends, and my students. The idea of sailing around the world is something for the future."