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Meet the fleet #16 - Hannah Diamond (GBR)

by International 29er Class 25 Nov 2023 06:05 PST
Hannah Diamond (GBR) © International 29er Class

This week we meet one of our International 29er Class alumni turned professional sailor, Hannah Diamond, GBR.

What was your journey into sailing?

I grew up right by the Hamble River so I was messing around in boats and playing in the water from a young age but I started racing when I was 9 in Optimists and was hooked straight away!

Why did you choose the 29er and how old were you?

I briefly tried the 420 and really struggled to enjoy it so my Dad suggested I try a 29er and from my first sail I absolutely loved it, the challenge of keeping it upright to start with and then just how agile you had to be to sail the boat well was really appealing to me.

Did you helm or crew and what did you like about it?

I actually did both! I helmed for my first winter, I was tiny at the time and always saw myself as a helm but when I went through Youth Sailing we were really lacking female crews. Both Frances Peters and I were looking for crews and it was a barrier to both of us sailing so we decided to team up and at the time I was maybe 2cm taller so I decided to put a harness on and learn to crew! I'm really glad I did both because its made me the versatile sailor I am today.

What did you learn in the 29er that you think has helped you in your sailing beyond youth level?

I learnt so much from the 29er, the co-ordination you have to have between helm and crew just to keep the rig in the sky firstly and then how impactful you can be on how the boat sails. I've never really been that technical so the one design element allowed me to learn how you need to be able to execute on the day and how much you can influence the boat by moving in the right way. Also obviously the fundamentals of boat handling which can be applied to loads of other boats.

Is there anything you wished you'd known when you were 29er sailing?

I wish I could have enjoyed it more at the time, I had a great time racing against my friends but I was taking it so seriously that I look back now and wish I had just taken it the opportunities a bit more. We travelled to some amazing places for World Championships - Buenos Aires, Argentina and Melbourne, Australia and I didn't really appreciate what a cool experience it is to go to these really amazing venues with your mates. I was just focussing on the racing which is obviously important but you have to enjoy it too!!

Do you think the 29er prepares you well for professional sailing, Olympic, Offshore and foiling sailing like SailGP and why?

The 29er is a fantastic boat to prepare for a career in any area of professional sailing because it teaches you so many fundamental skills that can be applied to so many other boats. The racing is really tight with so many evenly matched boats, you get that high performance fast boat element plus teamwork and communication. The racing is a really high level so you get feedback on your development both Nationally and Internationally which is great when you are in Youth sailing and it's also just a really fun boat to sail so when you're putting the hours in to get to grips with the boat, its enjoyable too.

What are your main strengths as a sailor and what are the biggest things you have learned in your sailing career?

I would say my biggest strength is being an all rounder - I have been fortunate enough to take part in so many different disciplines within our sport and be able to pick up skills which enable me to be racing in SailGP at 50 knots one day and then race in small keelboats trying desperately to get to 5.8 knots the next day and I love that about our sport. One of the biggest things I have learnt is that you can have fun while working hard and it doesn't have to take away from the effort you're putting in to reach your goal, I used to think it was one or the other!

What would be your advice for our 29er sailors if they want to pursue a career in sailing?

Build your skill base as wide as possible, the sport is changing so rapidly so opportunities will come up that didn't exist just a few months or years ago so put yourself in the best position possible to jump on them when you can. Work hard and enjoy the ride!

For our female sailors is there any words of wisdom you can impart as such an accomplished all-round professional sailor?

Professional sailing can be an incredibly rewarding career, just as it can be draining like any other career! Be resilient and take opportunities when they come around, there are so many doors opening at the moment so make sure you're ready to run through them!

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