Nagel earns chance of a lifetime

  • Bermudian on board: Nagel is all smiles as she sails with Team AkzoNobel in the Rolex Fastnet Race last month (Photograph by James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Emily Nagel is poised to realise her childhood dream of competing in the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race after being selected for the crew of Team AkzoNobel.

The Bermudian was given the nod yesterday after two months of trials with the Dutch racing syndicate, led by two-times America’s Cup winner Simeon Tienpont, during which she sailed several thousand offshore training miles and took part in all four legs of the Volvo Ocean Race’s “Leg Zero” qualifier series — including the classic Rolex Fastnet Race.

“I didn’t think it would happen so quickly, but when I got this chance I grabbed it with both hands,” Nagel said. “It’s been daunting, trialling with a team like this one, with so many of my heroes in it and so nerve-racking to be always thinking that one major mess-up could lose me my place.

“Now I’m unbelievably proud and excited to be full time with the team and I can’t wait for the race to start.”

Tienpont, who is competing in the around-the-world race for the third time, but first as a skipper, added: “We were looking for a strong, powerful woman with a lot of technical capabilities and someone who could really fit in well within the existing group. Emily was a great fit for that.

“She knows from her America’s Cup background how a professional sailing team runs and that is very important.

“Although professional sailing is quite new for her, she brings a huge amount of experience with her engineering degree and her technical knowledge.”

Nagel is the eleventh sailor to be confirmed by the Team AkzoNobel and the youngest female sailor in this edition of the race.

The 23-year-old cites British solo skipper Dame Ellen MacArthur as the source of inspiration behind her long-held desire to circumnavigate the world in a boat.

“Not long after I started sailing, one Christmas I was given a book about MacArthur and her first time sailing around the world,” she said.

“From that moment I was hooked and when I first heard about the Volvo Ocean Race, I knew that was what I one day wanted to do.”

Nagel earned a master’s degree in engineering with naval architecture from the University of Southampton, which she put to good use after giving up her place on Team BDA in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup to work full time with SoftBank Team Japan, the America’s Cup challenger.

The thirteenth Volvo Ocean Race, which will start on October 22 in Alicante, Spain, and finish at the end of June next year in The Hague, Netherlands, is a global competition formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race and is held every three years.

The 11-stage race will be contested over the longest distance in race history, covering about 45,000 nautical miles.

The longest stage will be from Cape Town to Hong Kong, which will cover more than 12,000 nautical miles, taking up to 37 days at sea.

The racing class is the high-performance one-design Volvo Ocean 65, designed by Farr Yacht design and built exclusively for this event.