Project Speedbird

Project Speedbird

Release Date : 30-Jan-2016 | Name : Hannah White | Category : Adventuring
Author : Myak Homberger


 

Like any adventurer, the inevitable question was "what’s next?", says Hannah as we catch up again and chat about her latest project.

Over a couple of beers in Wagamama's her and longtime friend Dave Chisholm came up with, as Hannah puts it "the hair brain idea to break the women’s speed record across water". The aim is to sail one nautical mile as fast as she can to break the record. This will involve sailing over an extended stretch of water, taking the fastest nautical mile from the average of the whole distance. As if this wasn’t enough she wants to be the first woman to break the 40 knots barrier as well! Two for the price of one.

The record stands at 34.45 knots and has been held by Zara Davies for the last 10 years having windsurfed along a manmade trench run in Namibia. Hannah says that Zara is pleased the record is being attempted but equally pleased that Hannah is not doing it on a windsurf! So supportive has she been of the project that Hannah and Zara have chatted at length about it and how best to achieve the attempt.

It may sound simple but boats aren’t built to be sailed that fast like that as a matter of course and sailors don’t train for that type of sailing normally. What makes it even more amazing is that Dave Chisholm built it in his shed at home. Hannah is a skilled ocean sailor and has featured in the magazine before, but she is used to sailing for weeks at a time and yet this is about sailing for 90 seconds or so at full tilt. Hannah described it best when she explained it to me by saying "it’s like I am an ultra-marathon runner and I have had to become a 100m sprinter". As well as this to sail a boat that "foils" (comes out of the water as the speed rises) is considered by many to be the toughest form of sailing. “Everyone said it was the hardest thing sail and they weren’t wrong” Hannah says of the extent of the challenge just to learn to sail a foiling boat let alone beat the record.

The disciplines required are so different to what Hannah has done before; you can’t just change boats and think it’s all the same. Hannah describes the training she has had to put in just to become competent in this new style of sailing saying "I had to approach it as an Olympic campaign as the skill level required is so high". As well as this things such as the weather in England where she has been training have been so tough that she could only sail for 30 mins at a time due to the amount of frozen water on the lake. By Hannah's own admission the training has been brutal. As she continues to explain "I have had to put my pride to one side and become a beginner again".

This for me is part of what sets Hannah and adventurers apart, that ability to try and "fail" and to admit they aren’t always the best at everything whilst being humble enough to always learn and grow; they become masters at adventure rather than experts at one discipline.

There are three clear parts to Hannah's adventure, first to be able to pull the right team together to build, finance and support such a project. This in itself is a huge undertaking and one that Hannah has been under no illusion about from the start, having people to organize this side of things has allowed her to focus on her most difficult challenge to date. Secondly, the ability and determination to be able to learn to sail such an incredible boat has pushed her more than ever but she has loved it all the same. Finally, the belief and potential to beat the record and it’s the belief that she can beat the record that gives her the edge over so many, as Hannah said "you have to ultimately believe".

Hannah is on course to smash the record and has in her trials beaten the cross channel record in her pursuit of the world record. Hannah’s determination, humility and the amazing team around her are what will ultimately pull this off and we look forward to catching up again to talk about her success afterwards.

To keep up to date with Hannah’s preparation and the adventure visit: http://www.projectspeedbird.com

 


  • Credit: Anthony CullenCredit: Anthony Cullen
  • Credit: Anthony CullenCredit: Anthony Cullen
  • Credit: Anthony CullenCredit: Anthony Cullen
"it’s like I am an ultra-marathon runner and I have had to become a 100m sprinter"
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