As we come towards the close of 2019, life has been a good mix of sailing and speaking.
In the last edition of The Ocean Race I had the pleasure of sailing with Francesca Clapcich onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic. Francesca had launched her latest project at the Barcolana in October and invited me to join her and the Wind of Change Sailing Team the weekend after. Racing a 90’ maxi yacht under the colours of ‘Golfe di Trieste’, Francesca had gathered together a talented and international group of inshore and offshore sailors to race over a weekend in the Venice Hospitality Challenge and the Veleziana Regatta organised by the Compagnia della vela.
Although the spectacular backdrop was a distraction while sailing, we did hold on to secure a second and a first place finish in the two regattas. I hope this is a sign of things to come for the racing programme and project in 2020.
It is incredible to think we were in Venice just a few weeks before the whole city became flooded.
Following that event, I travelled out to Bermuda for the World Sailing Annual Conference. It is now a year since I presented World Sailing’s new charity, the World Sailing Trust, at this event in 2018. At that announcement I expressed our hopes for the future and what the trust wanted to achieve moving forward. This year, I was able to reflect on that and speak about our three pillars of work in Marine Health, Youth Pathways and Access and highlight the projects we have already undertaken in all three areas in our first year. The conference was a great platform from which we were able to present the results of the Strategic Review into Women in Sailing funded by Andrew Pindar OBE DL. The results of the survey will be published shortly and I am looking forward to sharing them with you all.
A couple of weeks later and it was off to another conference – this time it was the Yacht Racing Forum in Bilbao. This event brings together people involved at the forefront of our sport. We debated wide ranging issues such as the innovations and challenges we face in our sport, design and reliability through to sustainability and the future. Sharp minds spoke eloquently and we heard from professional sailors, team principals and designers at the leading edge of our sport. There was a great atmosphere and valuable discussion which I am looking forward to following up at the event this time next year which happens to be taking place right on my doorstep in Portsmouth.
We finish the calendar year in the UK with the British Yachting Awards. I was delighted, as the inaugural winner last year, to be invited back to address the audience ahead of the 2019 winners being announced. There was a real buzz in the room as we congratulated all those that were shortlisted and celebrated the winners. A full list of the winners can be viewed here https://www.britishyachtingawards.com/the-british-yachting-awards-2019-winners/
In a break from the norm, I am remaining on shore for the festive season and will even be spending my time at home, which makes a very pleasant change. I will of course be watching the sailors in their warm up events for the Olympics and those setting sail on Boxing Day in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Even though it will be lovely to be home for Christmas, a little part of me will always long to be at sea.