With the Rio Olympics fast approaching, we thought we’d take the opportunity to get to know a few of the Olympic and Paralympic sailors we’ll be cheering for in Rio. Of course, we’re particularly keen to know if we’ll ever see our most competitive sailors convert to cruising. So, over the next few months, Deckee will be chatting to a number of our Olympic and Paralympic medal hopefuls, kicking off with 470 crew Jaime Ryan.
Jamie met her now skipper Carrie Smith while competing against her in the 420 class. Since then, they’ve become a close team, achieving 9th place at the 2015 470 World Championships, despite a challenging year of injury and sickness. Jaime comes from an impressive sailing family, with three of her siblings competing competitively, including her brother Will who sails with gold medalist Mathew Belcher and will be heading to the Rio Olympics.
Jess: What is it about sailing that you love?
Jaime: I love everything about being on the water in pretty much any form. The saying ‘salt water cures everything’ has always really stuck with me! I think it’s cool that boat speed is all about harnessing the power of nature, and with the smaller boats that we can control that so much with our bodies. In terms of the racing that we do, I love the physical aspect but I also love the chess game of it, the fact that our brains are working so hard through the whole race, looking for all the tiny details that add up around the race track.
Jess: You and Carrie were competitors before you started sailing together. How was this transition? Is there anything you learnt competing against each other that helps your team work?
Jaime: It’s a funny turn of events that we’re now teammates and best friends too - I don’t think either of us would have seen this coming five years ago! But I think it’s one of the great things about the sailing community, that we all battle it out on the water but back on shore our toughest competitors are also some of our best friends. Carrie and I both contributed different things to the partnership when we started sailing together, but one of our biggest strengths is how competitive and driven we both are, and I guess it was our rivalry in youths that we have to thanks for fostering that in each of us.
Jess: What’s your idea of perfect sailing conditions? Do you have a competitive advantage in any particular conditions?
Jaime: I’ve always been on the smaller side for a crew, so I would say we’re more competitive in lighter winds, but actually that’s something that Carrie and I have really evened out in the last few months, and at our last regatta our best races were actually in the super windy stuff! It’s always a good feeling coming in completely wrecked after a day of big wind and waves! That said, my favourite days are the ones in the middle, enough wind to be stretching my legs out on the trapeze wire, but before my hair is getting too wet!
Jess: What do you do to prepare yourself mentally for a big race?
Jaime: My brain tends to go into overdrive before we start a regatta, so I try to keep myself busy with activities that won’t tire me out. I’m still figuring out what my habits should be, but hanging out and relaxing with our teammates is always a good distraction, or watching a good movie. On the actual day of racing, I think it’s just important to have a clean mind so I can fully focus on the task at hand.
Jess: Can you ever see yourself as a cruising sailor? Can you relax on the water or is it all about competition?
Jaime: My family will jump to point out that I’m an excellent cruising sailor! Whenever I’m home, there’s nothing I love better than spending a day cruising Lake Macquarie on my Grandad’s yacht. My brother Will (470 Men's crew) will be jumping around the boat putting up every possible sail, but I’ll usually be stretched out on the bean bags in the sun with my sister. There’s no better place for a nap!