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‘It makes me incredibly homesick to watch Bermuda from so far away’

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Emily Nagel in the SailGP commentary booth in London (Photograph by Andrew Baker/SailGP)

Of all the Bermudians involved in helping to facilitate SailGP, Emily Nagel was in the most surreal position.

With her voice being beamed out as an analyst around the world, and to the thousands watching in the crowd at Morgan’s Point as part of SailGP’s broadcasting team, many would have expected her to have a prime position as she returns to the island.

However, things are not always what they seem when it comes to television, as Nagel was based in a studio booth in London, crafting words heard by millions, and seeing her home from thousands of miles away produced mixed emotions.

“It makes me incredibly homesick,” Nagel told The Royal Gazette.

“I actually haven't been home since last year and it has been really tough seeing everyone fly out there and getting to race in my favourite place. I would absolutely love to be out there watching the racing live, but also just being home in general.

“At the same time, though, it makes me incredibly proud of Bermuda and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to talk about our little island and how incredible a place it is.”

The job of an analyst is to provide context for some of the performances, and Nagel has easier access to data from the studio than being waterside.

“It is a little bizarre being in London and watching my home event on TV screens,” Nagel said.

“I have been commentating now for two years and it has been an adjustment to not being on site for the events, but this one is definitely surreal.

“From the studio we have constant camera feeds from the moment the camera boats go on the water and the helicopter takes off. It does flyovers of the whole island and captures content of the spectator boats hours before racing begins, and my poor co-workers are subjected to my constant babbling about what they're seeing on screen, pointing out my favourite spots and places I’ve lived.”

Broadcasting to millions of people has its privileges, and Nagel was able to mention some Bermuda sustainability initiatives that she feels are important.

“I had a brief moment today to be able to mention a couple of local projects that are close to my heart,” she said.

“These being the Seagrass Project, Living Reefs Foundations and the work companies such as Triangle Carbon Strategies and Muuvment are doing to provide opportunities for companies on the island to invest in local sustainability and biodiversity initiatives.

“Bermuda has so much to offer as both a racing venue and as an example of what other countries should strive for in terms of steps taken to protect our planet, which is one of the core values of SailGP and what makes this event so special.”

Better known as a sailor, Nagel has been with the SailGP analysis team since 2022 and feels she is still transitioning from the boat to the commentary box.

Emily Nagel brings SailGP alive for millions around the world

“Commentary is still something I'm getting used to,” she said.

“I wouldn't say I’m the best with words but it’s a really unique job getting to apply data to the tactics and decision-making we see on screen.

“It can be frustrating at times that I can’t go into more detail, but I love being able to help bring the sport to more people around the world. It can be tough at times and we do get a fair bit of abuse online from those that don’t approve of the way we talk, but at the end of the day what’s most important is that we are hopefully inspiring the next generation to take up the sport of sailing — and in this case more young Bermudians.”

Nagel has vast experience as a sailor, interning with America’s Cup challenger SoftBank Team Japan in 2016 and competing in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race with the AkzoNobel team, where she counted Denmark’s SailGP driver, Nicolai Sehested, among her team-mates.

She then set up her own data analysis company and was hired by the British SailGP team in 2020 before being taken on as a technical commentator by SailGP. But while she loves the job, it’s clear where she would rather be.

“Nothing beats actually sailing,” Nagel said.

“It’s an interesting job talking about sailing, but my happy place is always out racing on the water. Nothing beats that feeling of sailing fast with ‘BER’ written on the sail above my head.

“I still have my fingers crossed for a Bermudian team to join the SailGP fleet one day.”

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Published May 06, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated May 06, 2024 at 7:38 am)

‘It makes me incredibly homesick to watch Bermuda from so far away’

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