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An Evening With Sophie O’Neill – Fastnet Skipper and Ex Member of RHSC – Friday 12 April 2024

Feb 26, 2024 | Rye Harbour Sailing Club

Sophie O’Neill learnt to sail under the instruction of Paul & Mark Whiteman, nearly 30 years ago, both at the Rye Harbour Sailing Club and the Sea Cadets. They must have done something right as Sophie’s CV reads like an adventure story!

In her words:

“As a child I grew up in Moscow, Russia. It was here I first stepped into a dinghy on the Volga. Returning to the UK aged 12 I really took up sailing at the club. I saved my birthday and pocket money to gain sea miles on yachts. At 17 I started to teach sailing and by 21 I was working professionally both in dinghy sailing and yachting.

After University I went on to work in the industry full time. I was always pushing myself to be the best I can be so I studied hard in a lot of nautical subjects and aimed to deliver high standards on the water.

I worked as a racing skipper, skippering & competing in 5 Fastnets, 5 RORC 600 races, Cowes weeks and many Caribbean regattas as well as skippering numerous transatlantic crossings, some racing across. One of the pinnacles of my career was a double handed south Atlantic Ocean crossing in the depth of an icy winter.

In 2018 I was asked to help a Clipper team race across the North Pacific, where we won the leg and it was here I met my partner, Christoffer Kobusch.

After the Clipper Race we were invited to apply for Skip Novaks Pelagic Expeditions, taking science/ photography teams to some of the most remote islands in the world, including the South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia, Marion Island, Gough Island and Antarctica. This has been one of the highlights of my sailing career, working for the well-respected Skip Novak and sailing into regions that have no support network, where the weather dominates.

During the Pandemic we found ourselves in lockdown in the Falkland Islands. All of a sudden, our schedule & plans came to a grinding halt, and it was during the southern hemisphere winter months, so very far away from home.  We had to wait for better weather to sail away, with no extra crew.

It was whilst working for Skip that I first picked up a camera and started to document our voyages into these wild regions and the incredible wildlife.’

I am absolutely delighted that Sophie will be joining us on Friday 12th April 2024. Meet at the club at 6:30pm for drinks at the bar; Sophie will be speaking at 7pm. £10 pp for both members and non-members. Burgers, salad and potato wedges £5 per person (pay on the night).

Please confirm ticket numbers to Vice Commodore Martin Newman and transfer the appropriate amount into the club account by the end of March.

Photograph courtesy of Sail Racing Academy: Sophie O’Neill – Sail Racing Academy

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