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Williams blazing trail for women in sailing

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Katrina Williams working on the TP52 Super Series circuit

Katrina Williams is blazing a trail for women involved in sailing technology on the world’s leading grand prix monohull yacht racing circuit.

The Bermudian has joined forces with Virtual Eye, the company that revolutionised the America’s Cup with the introduction of 2 and 3D animations for the previous two instalments of the “Auld Mug”.

The Virtual Eye sailing system offers viewers, with or without an understanding of sailing, an opportunity to truly experience every moment of a race in real-time.

Williams received an invitation to join the company by a friend that she met while working as the Endeavour Programme co-ordinator during the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.

“I met John Rendall who works for Virtual Eye through my work with the AC Endeavor Programme at the America’s Cup,” Williams said. “Virtual Eye supported a lot of the activities that Jennifer Pitcher and I ran in the Endeavour zone at the AC Village.

“He was really excited about the programming we were doing for the youth in Bermuda and we spoke at length about how great the programme was and how passionate I became about the Steam [science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics] aspects of the programme.

“He reached out to me after I left the programme and asked if I wanted to get involved with the company he worked for as a way to get more females involved in technology in sailing.”

Williams is working with the state-of-the-art technology behind the scenes on the TP52 Super Series circuit, featuring America’s Cup and Olympic calibre sailors.

“For the TP52 Super Series I am learning how to be an operator for the 3D system,” she said. “It has honestly been completely out of my wheel house but an exciting new experience and place to grow as a young professional.

“It has been amazing to be behind the scenes at these events and begin to understand how much work is going in on the backside for live streams, how hands-on the TV, sound, announcer and data systems can be.”

As for the TP52 Super Series, Williams added: “The series is pretty interesting. The Super Series draws talent from the Olympians to the past America’s Cup sailors to younger guys getting on the scene and excited to be representing their country.

“The boats have more sailors on board than the last America’s Cup, so more sailors with different skill sets, not necessarily all ‘engines’ or grinders like the AC but back to more traditional rolls in sailing like the bowman and pit guy. As a sailor I enjoy seeing boats gain and lose through tactics and strategy rather than just speed.”

Among the teams competing on the TP52 Super Series is Italian syndicate, Luna Rossa, Challenger of Record for the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.

The series is contested in the new high-performance TP52 all carbon-fibre monohull.

“The boats are built under a box rule, which means that each boat must fit within a set of measurement parameters,” Williams explained.

“While you saw vast differences in the boats during the America’s Cup, these boats are much more similar, which tends to make racing closer.

“With a monohull [the AC75 foiling monohull] coming back into play for the next America’s Cup, it is exciting that the TP52 series has had an influx of new teams, with nine new teams joining for the 2018 super series.”

Katrina Williams working on the TP52 Super Series