Ahead of the France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez, we talk to Switzerland shore team intern Vera Vogelsanger about the biggest challenges of her role and how she first got involved in SailGP.
Talk us through the scope of your role
I work in the shore team of the Swiss team. There are four of us; the shore manager, chase boat driver, boatbuilder and me. With the shore manager, I am one of the first people on site and am also one of the last to leave! On training and race days we prepare our F50 Eiger at the base, then roll the platform out. We fit the wing and maneuver the boat onto the water with the crane. After the team is finished on the water, we haul the boat out, remove the wing, push the platform back into the base, take the foils out and check them with the rudders and then install them again ready for the next day. After the last day of racing, we take everything apart and pack everything up into the shipping containers. With our shore team manager, I’m one of the last people to close the container doors, ready for them to be shipped onto our next venue.
Did you always want to work in sailing/ sports?
Since I saw Alinghi winning [the America’s Cup] in 2003 I always wanted to learn how to sail. We didn’t have enough money to pay for a sailing boat or be a member of a sailing club, so I taught myself how to sail when I was 12 and started working as a sailing instructor when I was 15. I continued my career to train as a boatbuilder and work on the building site of sailing boats.
What would you be doing if you didn’t work in sailing/ sports?
I am still finishing my bachelor’s degree in industrial design, so most probably I would work as a designer or an engineer. I could design boats or sails or other things too, such as shoes, backpacks or furniture...
What’s your favorite SailGP racing venue and why?
I only started in June, at the start of Season 4, and I’m really looking forward to the events in Europe, because of the traveling distance. Our workdays are long and intense and to start with a ten or fifteen hour flight and jet-lag makes it much harder!
Best SailGP moment so far?
When the Swiss SailGP Team told me they like having me in their team.
Who is your biggest sports icon and why?
I'd rather reveal my biggest boatbuilding icon: Stefanie Bielowski is and always will be my boatbuilding icon. She was the first woman working for Spirit Yachts in the UK. It’s thanks to her that I am where I am now.
What did you do before you worked for SailGP?
After school I worked as a deckhand and boatbuilder for classic yachts before I attended the boatbuilding academy in Lyme Regis. After that I worked for Elvstrom Sails UK as a sailmaker. Then I started to study industrial design at the Academy of Art and Design in Basel, Switzerland.
Your most memorable moment at sea?
My first Atlantic crossing. The night shifts, the hours just watching the sea and being in the middle of the ocean.
What’s your favorite thing about SailGP?
Everyone - not only the sailors - the technical team, the shore teams, the managers, everyone shares the same passion. For me it is unbelievable to work on the tech side where all the best boatbuilders from all over the world come together to work together on the exact same boats.
What is your career highlight?
When I finished my certificates at the boatbuilding academy as the best student of the year in the UK.
The most challenging thing about your job?
Maybe it looks like it is the most amazing part of the job - to work all over the globe, but in fact I would say it is as well the most challenging thing about the job too!