Emily Nagel determined to get her piece of the fast-foiling pie
Emily Nagel is determined to make the big breakthrough sailing in fast-foiling boats at the America’s Cup and SailGP levels.
While the Bermudian sailor has enjoyed working with America’s Cup and SailGP teams as a designer and data analyst, her goal now is to take the next step and compete at that level herself.
“I am determined to make my way into the world of fast-foiling boats within SailGP and the America's Cup,” Nagel told Sail World.
“I have been involved with both on the shoreside, but it's the sailing side I am determined to break into.
“I honestly loved working as part of the design team at SoftBank Team Japan, and doing the data analysis for SailGP. Both were incredibly rewarding because you're working with such amazing talent. But on the water is always where I am happiest.
“Sitting on shore watching the boys dock off every day, I was riddled with jealousy. I love being challenged intellectually and being part of a shore team is incredibly rewarding. But I love racing and being on the water. Both inshore and offshore, it’s where I really come alive.”
The 27-year-old has already proved she can hold her own competing in fast-foiling boats, having finished second among the women competitors and 35th overall in a 70-boat fleet boasting America's Cup sailors and Olympians on her debut at the Wetsuit Outlet UK Moth Nationals in Dorset, England, last September.
“For now my Moth is the ultimate training tool and my favourite toy, and it has been incredible to line up with some of the world's best [sailors] in it,” Nagel added. “But it has fuelled the fire to show the boys there's a place for women in the world of high- performance racing.”
Nagel started sailing in the International Moth Class, the fastest single-handed dinghy in the world, capable of reaching speeds up to 42mph, in 2016.
She also has experience in the F4 foiling catamaran, having been a part of the Team Falcon crew that battled 35-knot winds on its journey from New York to Bermuda that same year. The team included America’s Cup sailors Jimmy Spithill, Shannon Falcone and Rome Kirby.
The naval architect also competed in the Royal Ocean Racing Club Caribbean 600 offshore race in 2018 in the F4, which ended earlier than planned after electronic issues forced her team to retire.
Nagel joined forces with Great Britain SailGP Team as a data analyst during the SailGP Championship’s inaugural season in 2019.
The global league’s second season was due to commence in Sydney in February 2020, but was postponed because of Covid-19.
It will now commence on local shores when the island hosts the Bermuda Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in the Great Sound on April 24 and 25.
For the first time, female athletes will also be included in the training as part of SailGP’s gender-equality initiative, a topic Nagel spoke on in her interview with Sail World.
“A huge part of my experience in the world of professional sailing has been seeing the inequality that exists — sometimes intentional, sometimes not,” she said. “The frequent frustration of being held back by my gender rather than my abilities.
“While I wouldn't say I'm a diehard feminist, and I don't see myself as a fearless female paving the way, I do want there to be more opportunities for women across all areas of sport.
“It's one of those things that I don't think talking about helps. It’s far more effective to just show that women can keep up — whether it's in the Moth, offshore in the Volvo or on shore doing technical work.”