Pathways is a Great Britain SailGP Team guest blog series looking at the routes individual team members took into the sport. For the previous blog in the series from Shore Team Manager, Matt Haslam, click here.
I joined SailGP through the Female Athlete Pathway in 2020. My current role is a Strategist on board the F50 which means that I am situated on the back of the boat, giving me a great overview of the course and what other boats are doing. I can then relay that information back to Ben to help him make his tactical decisions around the race course.
I grew up in Warsash, a town on the South Coast of England, near Southampton. Growing up on the coast, sailing has always been a huge part of my life. My parents met through sailing as my father was a boat builder. I learnt to sail when I was six years old and have loved it ever since.
Before SailGP, I primarily sailed dinghy boats. My most notable achievements have been my Rio 2016 Olympic campaign, as well as my time on the 11th Hour Around the World Race in 2017 and 2018. Now, being able to be a part of the Great Britain SailGP Team is an incredible opportunity. This league is the pinnacle of high-performance racing, with all the best sailors coming together to race fantastically fast and technical boats.
Part of what attracted me to sailing is that every day is completely different. Because the SailGP events take place worldwide, our race schedules hugely depend on the venue and time zone that we are in. For example, in Sydney, Australia, we had a later start to the day as our work goes later into the evening. During race days, we have three races, each race being about 15 minutes long.
What I love most about sailing though is the continuous challenge to always be a little bit better than the day before. Being a part of SailGP is hugely motivating within itself as I get to work with the best sailors in the world every day. I know that what I bring to the table is being able to put my best foot forward for all situations. This mentality has helped me mentally grow as a sailor, and athlete, over the years. While my motivations change, the strive to always be the best version of myself is what keeps me on the water.
In school, I didn’t realise how much of a role STEM played in sailing. We are using maths and physics to rig up the boats, on the water, and while analysing the data that comes off the F50 from racing. Being able to use my STEM knowledge from school has allowed me to better understand this data, and what we are doing on the water. Using physics, maths and technology is an everyday occurrence at SailGP.
During school, I was interested in Physiology and Biology. I studied Sport Science as my undergraduate, and went on to get a Masters in Sports Medicine before I took sailing full time. I chose these courses as I am fascinated by how athletes, and sailors, are best able to prepare themselves to go out on the boat.
My STEM education has helped me understand that the technical preparations of the boat are equally as important as physical and mental preparations as an athlete. We are using maths all the time, even when we don’t realise it.
As I’ve gotten older, my interest in sailing has become much more complex. Whilst I originally sailed purely for the physical performance aspect, I’ve now gained more experience and I’ve come to understand how important the physics, maths and engineering side of sailing is.
One piece of advice I would give my school self is to not worry so much about getting the top marks in the class, but ensure that you have the basic understanding of concepts because you never know when you might need to apply those learnings in real-life situations.
Being out on the water, experiencing the elements in my favourite thing. I feel so lucky to be apart of this amazing team.