Nagel’s persistence pays off with SailGP role
Emily Nagel’s plans of being involved in the new SailGP global series seemed dead in the water after her initial attempts to do so failed.
However, rather than give up hope, the Bermuda sailor volunteered her services as a performance data analyst for the series-opening regatta in Sydney, Australia, and dug deep into her own pockets to cover travel and accommodation expenses.
Her determination and sacrifice ultimately paid off as the Great Britain SailGP Team offered her an opportunity to serve the team in the same capacity, which she grasped with both hands.
“I knew I wanted to get involved with SailGP from the moment it was announced, but unfortunately I originally didn’t have much success getting into any of the teams,” she said. “All the shore teams are very small and were only looking for those who were highly experienced boatbuilders/riggers who would physically be working on the boat.
“At the end of the Volvo Ocean Race, I had started to get into performance data analysis, working for free for a few small teams in offshore sailing.
“In the lead-up to the Sydney SailGP event, I got in touch with the central SailGP service and the technical manager and arranged to intern for free with them in Sydney. I arranged my own flights and accommodation, flew to the other side of the planet and spent two weeks trying to be as useful as possible and learning what exactly the teams needed from a data analyst.
“At the end of the Sydney event, I was offered a role as performance data analyst by Chris Draper and the SailGP GBR team. I was with the team in San Francisco and New York, and will be with them for the rest of the season.
“The role involves working as both the performance data analyst and helping out shoreside getting the boat ready every day, and giving the boatbuilders a hand when things go wrong.
“There is an incredible amount of data that comes off the boat.
“The boats are constantly evolving. Every day there are adjustments made to the coding data inside them. My job is to tell the guys how to get the most out of the boat.”
Draper, an Olympic medal-winner, 49er world champion and veteran of two America’s Cups, is the team’s manager, while former 49er world champion Dylan Fletcher is the helmsman.
“I love working with the GBR team; it is a great bunch of guys,” Nagel added.
Great Britain are third in the series standings, four points adrift of leaders Australia, and will host the next regatta in Cowes from August 10 to 11.
“I look forward to the next event in Cowes where hopefully they will push hard on home waters,” Nagel said.
The series is contested in the same high-performance 50-foot foiling catamarans used in the 35th America’s Cup hosted by Bermuda and which have since been upgraded and rebranded as the GP50.
“The GP50s are hands down the most technologically advanced boats on the water right now,” Nagel added. “The amount of time spent on the design and technology behind the boats is jaw-dropping.
“The shell of the boat is the same as when they raced in the America’s Cup in Bermuda, but all the foils and control systems have had a major upgrade taking these boats to a new level.”