“I started sailing at the age of 8 with my parents in their Enterprise, but didn’t take to it until I was 12 when I started racing Toppers. I soon moved into the 420 and was selected for the Youth Squad. I had my sights set on going to the Olympics in the 470, but decided before I embarked on an Olympic campaign I would get my degree first. So I stayed in the 470 until I graduated from Southampton with a BEng Hons in Yacht and Power Craft design. I campaigned the 470 for the Sydney and Athens Games, but just missed out on selection for both. It was shortly after the trials for Athens that the RYA approached me to see if I would consider sailing the 2.4mR in the Paralympics. Having always sailed in able bodied classes I had never considered the Paralympics and had no idea about 2.4mR’s. I had two concerns about doing a campaign, the first, was I going to get the same buzz at competing at Paralympics level and secondly was I going to enjoy sailing the boat. I need not have worried about the competition, the top sailors had all done Olympic campaigns themselves in the various classes and also I was competing against the men, not just the women like the 470. The 2.4mR is nothing like anything I have sailed before. She handles like a yacht even though she is the size of a dinghy. The boat is very technical and the racing close and tactical and I have loved the change and challenge of learning a new class. I had my first sail in a 2.4mR in January 2004 and with the trials in April, I had very little time to learn the boat. I was getting good results from the start, and things were on track for April, but unfortunately I suffered gear failure and lack of knowledge of the problem cost me the trials. However I went on to finish 5th at the Open Worlds and first Paralympic sailor beating all my competitors going to the Games. Since Then I have been campaigning hard for Beijing, and have good results to show for it, finishing 3rd at the Open Worlds in September 2005 and 2nd at the IFDS worlds in January 2006. In July I was asked by Shirley Robertson if I would stand in as helm for her Yngling crew for the PreOlympic Test event in Qingdao. Shirley was expecting twins so unable to compete herself. We went to the regatta with no expectations, I had never sailed an Yngling before and we had had no time to practice, before departing for China. We had an amazing regatta finishing in silver an achievement that still has not properly sunk in. ”
Helena has been sailing since 1983
Sorry, I am not available to crew at the moment.
What is your favourite boat(s) and why?
Foiling Moth because it's so exhilarating
What is your favourite sailing venue(s) and why?
Miami, because it's warm and they have great Banana Smoothies
In sailing, what do you most want to achieve?
A Gold Medal
What, if anything, have you learned from your experiences sailing?
What is your worst sailing memory?
losing the trials
Who do you most admire in sailing?
What is the longest passage you have done (without stops)?
Yarmouth to Cherbourg
What item of sailing kit could you not do without at sea?
Who or what first introduced you to sailing?
My Parents first introduced me to sailing
Offshore or inshore and why?
Inshore, can go and have a hot shower and a cup of tea at the end of the day
What is your best sailing memory?
Getting Silver at the Pre Olympic test event in China in the Yngling.
What is the fastest you have sailed and on what boat was it?
18 Knots in a Hydrofoil moth