I have the privilege of one of the best jobs in the world where I get to meet incredible individuals, athletes and teams, spend time with them and
tell their stories. Occasionally I get invited to spend time behind the scenes, training camps etc. and see things most people don’t get to see
or experience and I feel honoured to be a small part of this growing world of woman’s sport.
Extreme Sailing is an 8 stage world series that races sail boats in stadium style settings in front of crowds around the world. The very best in sailing
race are there including Sir Ben Ainsley, Morgan Larson, Anna Tunnicliffe, Dean Barkerand Sarah Ayton. These are Gold medal winning Olympians,
World champions and Americas Cup heroes, so when I was asked by Extreme Sailing if I would like to join them for a day there was no hesitation.
What I didn’t realise until the day before was that it wouldn’t be a casual sail in the harbour, but that I would be on the boat with the team as they
raced for the 5th leg of the World series! I don’t know of any sport anywhere in the world where they let someone like me on to be “part of the
team” in a race that counts for points….needless to say my heart was in my mouth. Kind words from Anna Tunnicliffe, double gold Olympian,
to “watch you don’t get your noggin smashed” did little to make me feel that all would be ok, these guys were out to win and I wanted to be sure
I wasn’t going to do anything to get in their way or jeopardise this!
The starter sounded and for the next fifteen minutes of my life I clung on, dove, rolled and did all I was told to aid the weight and position ofthe
boat as the five of them ran around pushing, pulling and communicating via the smallest amount of words possible. They pushed the boat, performing
things I didn’t think were possible of a boat, turning almost instantly, stopping as if gifted with the best brakes in the world and avoiding more
than one crash as boats jockeyed for position around the bay.
The team work and communication was astounding. There is zero time for debate: each person said their bit and was taken at face value - from wind direction
to boat movements to tactics, it was something incredible to observe from on-board. A glimpse is available on our YouTube channel of some of it
but unfortunately most of the footage was lost due to memory card malfunction and so the experience of a lifetime can’t be shared in full, apologies.
This was an incredible experience and one I will never forget, not only because of the unique access but to have seen a team work in the way they did
and to know that I was on board with Olympians and Americas Cup winners is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.
The Alinghi team were all very good to me on shore as well as off and I am truly grateful to them and the Extreme guys for the opportunity. This is
a sport I would encourage all of you to watch and get into - it’s truly amazing what they do with these boats and that is spoken as someone who
has never been on any kind of racing boat!
More about Extreme Sailing in the next issue