Category Archives: Nikki Curwen

Nikki Curwen on Staying Mentally Prepared

Nikki Curwen

Former Go Ape employee, and current Offshore Racer, Nikki Curwen has been working towards competing in the Mini Transat for the past three years.

Now in the second leg of the race, Nikki tells us what it takes to stay mentally prepared…

“When solo, particularly in a race like the Mini Transat where you’re at sea by yourself for days at a time. The race is more about mental preparation and mental strength. There is no-one else there to keep you motivated, no-one there to judge you so it can be quite easy to become lazy and demotivated. The boat is very technical, with a lot of preparation, and on going work required to keep her running 100%.

Nikki Curwen Offshore RacingIt’s raining, freezing cold, the boat seems to be going well…what’s going to convince you to get on deck and take the helm, to push and get that extra 0.5kt of boat speed?

Sailing for days, looking at the same horizon, heading in the same direction. The sun goes up and down, days go by with nothing very different happening, as the boat rolls down the waves, taking me with her.

For some this might sound like torture, but for me, there’s something quite nice about it. The feeling of being completely alone and doing something I love. Sailing has always been my freedom, where I have complete control and I can just be myself.

If ever I feel down or de motivated I just have to remind myself where I am, what I’m doing, then maybe blast my music out full volume and have a sing along. It doesn’t take much….!

I’ve got a collection of notes, drawings and photos on board from friends and family, which is always a good motivation booster. While I’m solo on the boat, I couldn’t have made it to the start without all the help from my ever-growing team around me. When I first started campaigning for the Transat it was my own personal goal and dream. That’s now changed I really feel like I’m out here for everyone following me as well. The support is truly overwhelming and definitely keeps me motivated.”

In the coming weeks we’ll be posting more insight direct from Nikki about the first leg of the Mini Transat, including the build up and start day.

Jerome Goes Offshore Racing

Jerome Mayhew Sailing

We’ve been following Nikki Curwen as she prepares for her mammoth Mini Transat race – a 4,000 mile solo race across the Atlantic. Not shy at a bit of adventure, Jerome Mayhew, our Managing Director, joined Nikki on little excursion:

“Ex-Go Ape instructor Nikki Curwen got in touch with us to tell us about her amazing project to compete in the 2015 Mini-Transat race.  The “transat” stands for transatlantic and the “Mini” for the size of the boat – just 21’ (6.5m) long.  There is only room for one person, and that is only if you don’t mind not being able even to sit up straight.  

Having been inspired by Nikki’s determination to live life adventurously we became her title sponsor for her campaign and yesterday I got to have a go on the boat!  


With wind gusting gale force 8 Nikki headed straight out into the thick of it.  Up went the gennaker and we took off, except when my steering skills failed to avoid ramming the waves in front.  Have a look at this clip to see what happy looks like.”

Looking good Jerome!

Follow Nikki as she prepares for her next big adventure, with no phones and no computers, just paper charts.

A Beginners Guide to Sailing by Nikki Curwen

Nikki Curwen Sailing Sunset

So you want to start sailing..!

We asked Nikki Curwen to give us the run down on where to start, here’s a beginners guide from a transatlantic pro:

“There are loads of options but I would suggest finding a dinghy course near you, or even go somewhere nice and warm. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) have a very good scheme in place for beginner training, if you go on their website you can search for training centres across the world. Or perhaps you have a friend you could bribe for lessons, or at least a taster?

Understanding wind direction and the response needed is definitely easier to find from sailing in smaller boats. Although you might like the idea of starting on a nice dry cruising boat, to really get to grips with the sport I’d definitely suggest jumping in something smaller and taking the waves to your face!

From there you need to ask yourself, what do you want? Which direction do you want to go in? Big boat, small boat, cruising, racing, day sailing…there are many different channels you can take. Each needing different skills and each with their own positives and negatives.

Desperate to try dinghies?

A dingy is perfect for day sailing, club racing, and competitive fleet racing. Relatively cheap and easy to transport you can travel around easily, and can store in a garage or driveway. From solo sailing in a laser, to swallows and amazons style picnic adventures in a wooden classic. Once you’ve mastered the basics of sailing you can get on the water quickly. Whether on a local pond or on the coast.

If you want to get into racing there are many different options, from optimists, cadets, toppers, mirrors, moving up to 420, 29er, and the RS fleet. If your looking into dinghy racing, I’d suggest choosing your “local club” and seeing what classes are raced there, talk to the sailors, perhaps even persuade one of them to loan you a boat to try.

The quickest way to learn is to get stuck in and get as much time on the water as you can.

Yearning for a yacht?

Slightly larger and generally having some form of cover or accommodation you can travel further in a yacht, with flexibility for more people to join you.

Your basic principals of sailing are still the same as in the dinghy but everything tends to happen a bit slower. While you have more time to respond and react, you also can’t notice changes as well so can be more difficult. A yacht can come with an engine, plumbing, electrics, painting/varnishing and more things to tinker with to keep you busy, particularly when it comes to maintenance.


In short, there is no right or wrong way to learn, for beginners it’s what suits you, and what you want to get out of it.”

Nikki Curwen vs the Mini En Mai

Nikki Curwen - Mini en Mai

The time has come for Nikki Curwen to set sail at the Mini en Mai!

The Mini en Mai is only on it’s second edition, but despite being a new race to the Mini calendar it is proving very popular with just under 60 people entered – all racing solo. The race is 500 miles long, which follows one of two courses depending on the wind, and is likely to take around 4 to 5 days to complete.

Both courses start and finish in La Trinite, France. The first is a coastal route, going up through the Raz de Sein, a very tidal and narrow passage, down, through and under the bridge across to Ile de Rhe, near La Rochelle then returning to La Trinite.

The second course is more offshore, heading across the Bay of Biscay down to the Spanish coast, rounding a mark and heading back again.

Fresh from the Pornichet Select, we asked Nikki what’s she’s been doing to prepare for the Mini en Mai;Nikki Preparing Boat

The first two races of the season have been quite manic in preparation getting everything together. There has been a bit of a gap this time, which has given me time to add a few new upgrades to the boat, including a new autopilot.

Sailing solo, the autopilot is the most vital bit of kit on board, while “George” (as I call him) is steering I can sleep/eat/adjust the sails while the boat continues to sail. My current pilot is connected on deck, I have to attach it to the tiller, and then before/after/during press the button to activate the system. My new pilot will be connected all the time with a clutch, which is released when it’s not in use. This means I can just press a button to activate it, and not worry about trying to line it up and attach it at the same time.

As one of the many solo races Nikki will be competing in this year, we had to ask…what items will you be taking that you can’t live without?

I have no absolute musts I have to take, although music is a key necessity for me when sailing by myself. There’s always a song to keep you motivated and high-spirited.
King Louis ( my new mascot ) is one thing which hasn’t left the boat since I’ve become Go Aped! King Louis is a cuddly toy from the Jungle Book, with his Velcro hands he hangs around the boat to keep me company.

Keep an eye on Nikki’s progress at the Mini en Mai here, each competitior will be tracked as they take on the challenging courses. Alternatively, if you fancy a go at competing in the Mini en Mai why not compete using the Virtual Regatta game where you can create your own boat and race Nikki around the course!

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