The Land Rover BAR Academy have selected their first female sailor: Annabel Vose, one of Britain’s most talented young sailors, and winner of four World Championships, and one European and ten national titles across a multitude of classes and disciplines.
The academy was created to find and support talented young British sailors, to provide a pathway into the America’s Cup, and specifically to build a British team that can win the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup (RBYAC) in June 2017. annabel will make a strong pitch for a place on the raceboat.
Vose, aged 22, is on the final year of a four-year undergraduate Masters course in Ship Science — the result of a long-term fascination with maths, physics, and sailing. Her final design project is a foiling catamaran, so there’s plenty of synergy with the Land Rover BAR project.
Annabel grew up in Southampton, and learned to sail on the River Hamble at the locally-renowned Royal Southern Yacht Club ‘Splash Week’ — a week of boating fun aimed at children that takes place every school summer holiday.
For the first three years, this was the extent of her sailing, until at the age of ten, when she decided to compete in the equally-legendary Bursledon regatta.
Annabel said: “I was racing against these guys who were in the national Optimist squad, and one of them recommended to me that I went and did the next open meeting. And from there it was always onto the next regatta, the next squad to join — it was quite an easy path for me to follow.”
She progressed through the RYA’s local squads, and then onto the national squad. She sailed and trained with them for three years before winning the national girl’s title at the age of 15 — a trip to the Optimist World Championships in Rio followed.
After growing out of the Optimist, Vose settled into the two-handed 420. It was in that boat that she won the Women’s 420 World and European Championships, before qualifying for the ISAF Youth Worlds, where she won a bronze medal.
The natural next move was into the Olympic class 470 dinghy, and for a year, Annabel tried to combine this with her University course. The engineering course was extremely demanding and she decided at the end of that year to switch to match racing, where she became the first woman to beat the men and win the Youth Nationals in 2014 and subsequently the Student Match Racing Worlds.
Alongside the sailing, she has also been working towards her degree. She said: “I think that every sailor knows what the America’s Cup is, and that’s always a goal in the back of their mind, no matter how far away it might seem – the Academy bridged that gap.
“I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t applied and not tried. So I applied in April, completed the fitness test, and got a call back to come sailing.
“I was invited to the second training camp in July. Over the summer I continued to work on my fitness and gained more experience sailing GC32 catamarans in Cowes. I competed in the Extreme Sailing Series with Magenta, the all-female team, and I learnt so much that week. The hard work paid off as I received the invite to join the Land Rover BAR Academy.
“I’ve done a lot of sailing in larger teams with the match racing, both all-female and mixed. My degree helps a lot — I understand the dynamics and forces around rigs and wing sails and my current focus in my Masters is on foiling catamarans. So I bring both sailing and technical experience to the team, not necessarily brute strength, but that won’t let me down either.”
The America’s Cup had female and co-ed teams competing in 1995 and 2000, but this was well before Vose’s time, and she has no knowledge of these role models. “I know the Academy didn’t get that many female applicants, and that’s because of the pedigree of the America’s Cup where you don’t really see females, but there is no reason why I shouldn’t be on the Academy programme and hopefully that will inspire other people to try as well.”
The first intake into the Land Rover BAR Academy has been competing in the Extreme Sailing Series 2016. The Series now uses a foiling multihull, the GC32, and is the perfect training platform to launch the careers of these young sailors. In addition, the ongoing selection programme will develop a team to compete in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in Bermuda (June 2017).