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Passionate Persistence – Annie Lush GBR Women’s Match Racer

by Shauna McGee Kinney on 10 Dec 2011
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor, Elliott 6m. Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 3rd-18th December 2011. © Copyright Skandia Team GBR. - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships Shauna McGee Kinney
Britain’s three-woman team of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor show passionate persistence as they compete at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

As individual athletes, the British women are focused and determined. As a team, the women are a major threat on the water. Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor are ranked third in the world, behind teams skippered by Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Claire Leroy (FRA). The other nations know that upon completing the Perth 2011 event, they will be at the London 2012 competing on Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor’s home course in England.

Nothing illustrates the individual determination of these sailors more than Annie Lush’s story. In mid-January 2011, the team was in Florida - USA for the Rolex Miami OCR. Three days before the competition started the gals were hoisting their boat out and putting it onto the trailer. Annie was about 12 feet / 3.7 meters up, on top of the boat that was on the trailer. She was tying up the boat when she fell head first onto an empty boat trailer beside her boat.

She suffered a serious head injury and was rushed to hospital. Annie explains, ‘I couldn’t fly for a few days because of my condition. When I finally got home, it probably took about three months to get back in a boat. -- And probably about five months until I was allowed to train properly again in the gym. The first part of this year was quite tricky for us.’

Match racing isn’t a cruise around the buoys. It can be as physically demanding as the other dinghy classes. Looking at the Fremantle course in particular, Annie describes the demands, ‘Women’s Match Racing is a very physical boat because we do hike. The races are quite short and are so intense. In heavy winds, we did a race, which was probably only about 14 minutes long. We did three laps and that means I have to hoist the spinnaker three times. There were a few big gusts on a very short course with a lot of tacking and gibing. It is physical’

She concludes, ‘I think women hit their physical peak when they are about 30. So, hopefully I am just in mine.’

The team has been together just over a year and Annie is sailing with two sisters, Lucy McGregor and Kate McGregor. Prior to racing on the Elliot 6m, Lucy and Annie were sailing in the Yngling for about six years, which was the former Women’s Olympic keelboat. At that time their teammate was Shirley Robertson and Lucy was on the bow. As of 2012, Lucy switched to steering and Annie stayed in the middle.

Shirley was not going to join the 2012 campaign. Lucy Macgregor and Annie Lush were now looking for a third team member. Annie shares her experience, ‘Three is quite a hard number of people for teams. I knew that it was going to be hard to bring someone in, because Lucy and I sailed together for so long. We wanted someone to really feel part of the team.’


‘It was fantastic actually being able bring in Lucy’s sister because she had sailed with Lucy.’ Annie summarizes, ‘I think sailing with sisters makes a difference. Obviously, being sisters it is not a professional relationship, but a personal relationship.’

People from the outside might wonder if being the non-family member in the team makes Annie Lush the odd-woman-out. Annie responds, ‘I don’t think so. We have known each other for a long time. We are all from Poole. Although Kate is 11 years younger than me and we are slightly different generations, I have always known her family when growing up.’

Poole is on the South coast of England and Annie’s family could see the yacht club from their window when she was growing up. Annie’s dad, David Lush, is big in local J24 sailing. Her mum, Karen, is in into sailing, too. Annie values growing up near her club and reminds sailors, ‘Keep sailing! -- In keelboats with your dad, or with older people, or smaller boats, or bigger boats. Sail as much as you can, with as many different people as possible and in as many different kind of boats as you can.’

As for sailing with family members, Annie admits, ‘For sure we have some [tension] because Lucy and Kate are sisters.’ The sibling friendship and the rivalry has many benefits and Annie thinks, ‘There is always a balance somewhere.’ Annie’s passion, determination and come back may be the balance on the boat.

The pressure is on in Perth, with a variety of conditions from the coveted strong, consistent afternoon-winds to unseasonal thunderstorms followed by light winds. The Women’s Match Races continue through 16 December 2011 in Perth. A variety of live visual and audio feeds are available to spectators who cannot make the grandstands to watch the event.


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