Rio Paralympics Sailing Profile: Sonar Helm Colin Harrison

Jessica Watson
Posted July 26 2016

With the countdown on to Rio, we’re keen to get to know a few of our Olympic and Paralympic sailors. This week we talked to the helmsman of the 7m Sonar, Colin Harrison. After losing an arm to cancer, Colin took a break from sailing but came back with a vengeance, competing at the Athens and London Olympics and winning Bronze at Beijing. Impressively, Colin has pulled off these achievements while running an MRI unit, teaching uni students, being involved in research projects and fathering three kids.

Colin sails with crew mates Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden, and answered a few of Jess’s questions.

Jess: What is it about sailing that you love?

Colin: I think the challenge of using the wind and the waves to make a boat sail and then the strategic ‘chess-like’ racing game.

Jess: What’s your idea of perfect sailing conditions? Do you have a competitive advantage in any particular conditions?

Colin: Sailing conditions would be 12-14 knots of breeze on open water. This gives our team an edge as we can get physical with the boat and use our weight to get maximum power.

Jess: Sailors and sportspeople can be pretty superstitious - do you have any superstitions or traditions while racing?

Colin: I just like to be prepared well before racing so that when the unexpected happens, there’s time to deal with it.

Jess: Between three kids, running an MRI unit, teaching uni students and sailing, life sounds busy! How do you juggle it all?

Colin: Try and be organised. Sometimes it works, other times – well, the occasional ball gets dropped!

Jess: What do you do to prepare yourself mentally for a big race?

Colin: Try and accept that it’s just another competition and keep the same preparation. The stakes maybe higher for some events, ie the Games or Worlds, but there are still things that you can control and those that you can’t.

Jess: Can you ever see yourself as a cruising sailor? Can you relax on a boat or is it all about the competition?

Colin: Definitely. Blue water cruising is on the cards. However, I’ll probably still be trying to get the boat going as quick as it can.

You can follow Colin and his crew on Twitter and Facebook and make sure you’ve signed up to the Deckee community so you don’t miss any of the upcoming Olympic profiles.

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