“I do almost lead a double life. When I’m with my son and at home with the family, you try to dedicate as much time. And I love him dearly and I love every minute I get to spend with him. But equally, I love what I do in my sport and in my work. As someone said to me, if you weren’t doing what you’re doing, you’d be a miserable mum at home.”
A professional ocean sailor and mum, Abby Ehler’s double life means that today she is on a 22m/65ft yacht with 8 other crew members, racing down the west coast of Africa from Portugal to South Africa during the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
This around-the-world race (formerly known as the Whitbread Round-The-World Ocean Race) is considered one of the longest and toughest professional sporting events in the world.
It will take Abby and the rest of the crew on the Team Brunel yacht (and the other yachts in the race) around 8 months to complete.
Abby grew up as a sporty kid who was “dragged along” to go sailing with her Dad.
A stint in triathlon was followed by a career as in sailing, both in ocean racing as well as working in on-shore logistics for the America’s Cup organisation.
In this episode, we discuss:
* her sporty childhood,
* how she got involved in sailing and ocean racing,
* what she loves about the sport of triathlon,
* the challenging conditions the crew will face during the Volvo Ocean Race and what life onboard is like,
* her thoughts on the new rules for this year’s Volvo Ocean Race which are designed to increase the opportunities for women to participate in the event (but which also smell a lot like a quota),
* her experience with fear, doubt and danger and her struggle with a lack of self-confidence, particularly in her earlier career,
* how she deals with the guilt associated with being away from her family for long periods of time, and
* the importance of resilience and how we often don’t realise how resilient we are (until we’re tested).
Notes and resources:
Magenta Project: Accelerating Women in Sailing can be found here.