Ainsworth's Antics: Getting to know Sophie Ainsworth...

British Sailor, Olympian and SSW Ambassador, Sophie Ainsworth travels the world, training and competing at some of the most incredible sailing venues. Join me, SSW's Lottie Miles, as I catch up with Sophie each month and follow her bid to represent Team GB once more at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo...

How it all began...

I first met Sophie Ainsworth in 2007, during the first few days of our Exercise and Sport Science degree at the University of Exeter. Sophie was already an elite sailor on the path to excellence, and I was bumbling along thinking it would be rather nice to work in sport one day...

"Fast forward 10 years and our paths have crossed once more in the form of Sailing Southwest..."

Sophie is now at the pinnacle of her sport, earning her living as a professional sailor on the British Sailing Team (BST). I, on the other hand, finally stepped back from an academic career in Sport Science (yes, it took me that long to leave university!) in order to help set up Sailing Southwest.

Together, we're bringing you an exclusive look into the life and times of a professional sailor through this blog, 'Ainsworth's Antics'...

Right, let's start things off by getting to know Sophie just a little better. I caught up with Soph last week, just before she headed back out to Mallorca for the prestigious Princess Sofia Regatta...

LM: When and how did you start sailing, and what kind of dinghy did you start in?

SA: I started sailing when I was 8 years old in an Optimist at Bewl Valley Sailing Club. I had a few goes in my Dad’s Wayfarer too, although this was more of a social/family affair! I started sailing because my older brother and Dad were doing it, and I wanted to learn too!

LM: What is your favourite memory/experience in your sailing career so far?

SA: This is a tricky question... I have a few!

One of my favourite memories is from my last year of Youth sailing in the 29er. At the 29er ISAF youth worlds. We went into the last race in 2nd place on equal points with 3rd and 4th. It was 25knots, and we all capsized at some point. We won that race, with a hole in our mainsail, as I’d gone through it in our capsize!

Another stand out memory is the 49erFX World Championships in Santander, 2014. We had a race that was gusting 30 knots, 35 by the time we got abandoned. We were the only boat to make it through the leeward marks and that’s because we reversed through them!!

It goes without saying that the Games in Rio was a particularly memorable experience, sailing under sugar loaf and the Christ redeemer!

LM: What piece of kit (other than your life jacket!) would you never go out on the water without?

SA: My harness... I would have a horrible day without that!

I always have a CNP hydrogel, pineapple flavour is my favourite - it’s far too easy to forget to eat in the moment, and these are easy to eat/drink so you don’t end up feeling sick!

LM: What is your training routine like? Do you have to do gym work, running, sport psych, nutrition...?

SA: My training routine is totally dependent on whether it’s a training or competition phase, and whether we are in the country or not.

Usually I do three weights sessions a week and two circuit/CV sessions. Alongside this I will do prehab every other day (this is prevent injury on areas that I know are susceptible or have previously been injured). We try and do as much of this with our strength and conditioning coach as possible, but we have a training planner that tells us our session plans.

I would see the team Physio twice a week, either for treatment or just to check in.

We work with a sports psychologist, who we see roughly once a month.

LM: I've got to know, where is your favourite place to sail in the Southwest…and why?

SA: I have some pretty great memories of sailing in Lyme Regis and jumping off the wall after sailing! So much fun.

I love sailing in Weymouth because you can sail in the harbour even when you know it’s really windy, you can push yourself to the limit and on a good day you can go an explore the bay.

LM: And finally, what is the one piece of advise you would give to young sailors

SA: Practice as much as you can but make sure you enjoy it and have fun with your sailing friends. I’m still good friends with the kids I learnt to sail with, it’s a really special sport.

Sophie is sailing in the Princess Sofia Regatta over the Easter week, alongside her old friend and sailing partner, Sophie Weguelin (who is also an Exeter University alumni!) Check back in next month where we will report on how the Two Sophies got on and find out what's next in Ainsworth's Antics...

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