When did the selection process for the Land Rover BAR Academy start for you, how did you hear abut it and what was involved?
Selections began in April last year; following an initial application this was followed by a day of fitness tests at the Land Rover BAR base in Portsmouth allowing applicants an opportunity to understand more about the Land Rover BAR Academy, as well as an insight into the senior team and then a sailing trial on the Land Rover BAR Extreme 40.
You are the only woman to be selected in the squad for the academy what do you think are the biggest hurdles stopping women from thriving in this environment?
Yes I am the first girl to join the Land Rover BAR Academy but I am definitely not going to be the only one; it is a constant review and trialling process with more girls applying. I am sure that, with the growth of the Land Rover BAR Academy, more opportunities will be available.
You were involved with the Magenta Projects GC foiling week, some M32 sailing at Cowes and the first female entry in Extreme Sailing Series before you joined the Land Rover BAR Academy. How do you feel these opportunities helped you to secure your place in the squad?After my first Land Rover BAR Academy trial in April the feedback was to obtain as much Multihull and if possible foiling experience as possible. I spent the summer working in the design office at North Sails and catamaran sailing with the Magenta Project, gaining both technical knowledge in sail design and multihull experience. The GC32 foiling week with the Magenta Project was a fantastic opportunity for us all to learn about these high speed foiling boats and was an experience I would have struggled to find elsewhere. Racing with on the all-female team at the Extreme Sailing Series event in Lisbon took this to another level; we had a fantastic team of girls of all ages and backgrounds and hopefully this has opened more doors for girls to join the Extreme Sailing Series in the future.How is the training going with the Land Rover BAR Academy, what roles do you play onboard?Training with the Land Rover BAR Academy is very intense. There is a massive emphasis on fitness, especially at this stage in the cycle. The strength and conditioning coaches at Land Rover BAR are working us hard with group gym sessions and regular fitness tests. We also have technical and tactical reviews of previous events, and I have been able to contribute to these.
Finally, can you provide us with what you think has been the main factor this year in getting to you where you are now?
It has definitely helped me by taking part in a vast range of sailing from 420 dinghy to offshore racing; alongside gaining experience in different sized teams from Quarter Tons to Fast 40’s to managing & helming a match racing team for two years. My Ship Science degree at Southampton University has also been invaluable providing the science and engineering behind these foiling boats and this will hopefully help further when we race in the Bermuda event with a wing sail. My time at North Sails this summer was also really helpful with further understanding sails and rigs. The Magenta Project last year provided practical opportunities to sail foiling catamarans. I am currently working on the design and development of an upgrade to the foils of a non-foiling boat, which should enable it to foil. This is really exciting, and alongside the new Olympic Nacra’s foiling catamarans are becoming much more accessible.
Red Bull Youth Americas Cup takes place in Bermuda from 12th-21st June with 12 teams competing from across the globe in AC45F’s. At the time of writing at least 2 teams have girls in their squad and hopefully more will be revealed. If you want to follow Annabel and the Land Rover BAR Academy in this event then check out the following website:
Or more importantly if you want to follow in Annabel’s footsteps and continue to advance women in sailing and reach one of the sport’s pinnacle events then check out how you can become part of the Land Rover BAR Academy, the application process is open until the start of Red Bull Youth America’s Cup event.