Please select your home edition
Edition
Hyde Sails 2017 Dinghy Show

Olympian creates a new women's sailing dynasty at BOISW

by Suzanne McFadden 15 Jan 02:08 PST 15 January 2019
Sharon Ferris-Choat and the all women crew on Ave Gitana - Hamilton Island Race Week - Day 6 © Richard Gladwell

As the starters' gun fires in the country's largest keelboat regatta next week, three generations of Ferris women will race together for the very first time.

For skipper Sharon Ferris-Choat - a two-time Olympian and round-the-world sailor - drawing family together in an all-female crew for Bay of Islands Sailing Week is one way to thank her mum for supporting her, as she’s dashed off to sail around the globe over the last 25 years.

And it’s also a way for Ferris-Choat to show her own daughters, aged 10 and five, that sailing isn’t “the devil”.

Ferris-Choat, who turns 45 this week, is still a seriously competitive sailor.

Her incredible sailing resume includes competing for New Zealand at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics, sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race on all-women’s team Amer Sport II, and breaking four world records on board multihull Maiden 2 on its non-stop circumnavigation of the globe.

These days she revels in offshore racing (it's her goal to establish an offshore academy in New Zealand), and she's a strong advocate for advancing women’s sailing.

She made history as skipper of the first all-female crew in the international Extreme Sailing Series, on a foiling catamaran, back in 2016. And, last year, her women’s crew won every race in the multihull division at Hamilton Island Race Week on board Ave Gitana - taking the Gun Boat Trophy for most line honour wins across the entire regatta fleet.

“We took it from all the million dollar boys,” she laughs.

But she’s also very aware that her sporting career takes her away from her family in Kerikeri – her understanding husband Neil and their daughters, Sofia and Victoria.

“Last year I was away overseas for four months off and on. It takes its toll on the family,” Ferris-Choat says.

“My girls know how to sail, but sailing is a double-edged sword for them at the moment - because it takes mum away. For a while there, the girls saw it as the devil.

“But I want to show my girls that racing doesn’t have to be all at Olympic or world championship level. It can also be a lot of fun, quality family time.”

That's why she's taking them racing, along with their grandmother Pauline. As far as the regatta organisers know, they will be the first all-women’s keelboat crew in the regatta’s 17-year history.

It’s in the Bay of Islands that Ferris-Choat first encountered sailing as a young teen. She was taken out on a friend’s family yacht, where she learned to snorkel and sail a dinghy. “I was in absolute heaven,” she recalls.

She then joined the Kerikeri High School sailing team, learning to sail under the legendary Derry Godbert – who also first coached Emirates Team New Zealand sailors Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney.

Sailing also helped Ferris-Choat in the classroom. “I’m incredibly dyslexic and, until then, I was failing at school. But the self-confidence that grew from my sailing transferred into my school work,” she says.

Impressed by her daughter’s passion for the sport, Ferris-Choat’s mum, Pauline, began sailing herself. “Then my three younger brothers all got into it,” Ferris-Choat says. Her brother Justin has now sailed in the Volvo Ocean Race four times.

For the rest of this story click here

Related Articles

All happening here (and there)
We looked at the Black Jack programme once before Back in 'Nothing wrong with your eyesight', we looked at the Black Jack programme for 2019. Evidently, there is absolutely nothing awry with Roy Disney's vision either, for he has snapped up the former Volvo 70 to become the latest Pyewacket. Posted on 21 Apr
Gladwell's Line: Laser ruckus..Cup timelines
In a piece of lousy timing, the Laser class is split In a piece of lousy timing, the Laser class is split after the predominant builder in the class LaserPerformance had their building licence cancelled, just after World Sailing had conducting an Evaluation Trial for the Laser's two Olympic Events. Posted on 16 Apr
The need for innovation
70 boats out for a mid-week twilight jaunt, and just half a dozen for Saturday means something... You know when a club can get like 70 boats out for a mid-week twilight jaunt, and then just half a dozen for Saturday windward/leewards that something is going on. It is not that sailing isn't something people want to do. Posted on 14 Apr
Feather duster
As in knock me down… Like this wasn't going to happen As in knock me down... Like this wasn't going to happen. No semaphore was required here. Intrigue in the AC is nothing new. It is a shame, for sure, but we commented at the time of the late arrivals that the cash pool simply was not big enough. Posted on 7 Apr
Gladwell's Line: Laser ruckus..Fake news hurts Cup
The Am Cup has a big following in the sailing and sometimes mainstream media That has its downsides The Am Cup has a big following in the sailing and sometimes mainstream media. That has its downsides as we saw on Tuesday, with 3News breaking a story claiming that the three late Challengers would not be on the start line of the 2021 America's Cup Posted on 5 Apr
Oh Yeah. Giddy Up!!!
At first, I really did think this was an April 1st kind of thing At first, I really did think this was an April First kind of thing. Now even though it actually is April Fools' Day, this boat, and the story around it have been vetted. So whilst they are just renders, for now, the project is very much alive and kicking Posted on 31 Mar
Famous martini
Shaken, not stirred - we're talking about the Sayonara Cup Ah huh. So that would make it shaken, not stirred. Right. Now what we are referring to is the recent running and winning of the Sayonara Cup, which we featured last week in Left Languishing. Posted on 24 Mar
Gladwell's Line: Dinghy trials...Am Cup..18fters
A scan of the Sailing scene from the past week or so - America's Cup, 18fters and Singlehanders A look at the Evaluation Trials for the Single Handed Mens and Womens Single Handed Dinghy to be used at the 2024 Olympics. What was really behind the Applications to the America's Cup Arb Panel? And a look at the Kiwi win in the JJ's in Sydney Posted on 22 Mar
Olympics 2024: Singlehander Trials conclude
Kontides wins 2024 Olympic single-hander equipment trials in Valencia Grand finale for the Olympic Trials in Valencia. The fourth and final day of testing at sea has reserved Posted on 20 Mar
Left Languishing
Trophies, are somewhat different from boats. They don't tend to deteriorate quite so badly Trophies are somewhat different from boats. They don't tend to deteriorate quite so badly when they get left alone for ages. Case in point, the Sayonara Cup. It has had several periods in its life when it has been left to its own devices. Posted on 17 Mar
Naiad 660x82px_TouristZhik 2018 Dongfeng 728x90 BOTTOMWindBot-COACH-660x82