Tag Archives: Nikki Curwen

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!

Oh Buoy! A Q&A with Offshore Racer Nikki Curwen

A Q&A with Nikki Curwen

The thirst for adventure, is it nature or nurture? We caught up with Offshore Racer Nikki Curwen to find out where her love of adventure came from, and what drives her to never stop exploring.

When did you first discover your love for sailing?

Both my parents are sailors so I was chucked into a boat when I was less than a year old. I’ve grown up on and around the water and have always loved it. When I was about 7/8 years old my older sister had joined the local club and was sailing every Saturday, I remember going down to the club to watch them race and eagerly waiting to grow up and be able to join in myself.

Nikki Curwen Sailing

What has been your favourite adventure to date?

Joining the Mini Class and sailing my Mini has been incredible and definitely the most exciting thing to date. One of my favourite adventures was actually two years ago when I left on my 1,300 mile qualification passage in the med for 10 ½ days. I’d never been so far or as long by myself on a boat before. I experienced horrendous winds up to 45 knots for over 2 days, then days of absolutely nothing, where I moved less than 5 miles in a day. I experienced life at sea by myself, the challenges that come with it, and the feeling of achievement when I’d finished what I set out to achieve.

What challenges have you experienced on your journey?

Over the years I’ve had some pretty major problems on the boat which I’ve had to deal with. Thankfully nothing fazes me too much and I have the ability to “man up” and get on with what needs to be done. Last year I had a problem with my steering system, the bar joining my two rudders had snapped in half meaning I lost the ability to steer. I had the spinnaker up at the time with around 30 knots of wind. Although it could have been a horrendous situation I quickly came up with a solution to fix the problem and within half an hour I was back racing full speed.

Describe a typical day in the life of Nikki Curwen

A typical day doesn’t really exist, there are many things I have to do, which become flexible depending on the weather and location. Although my team is growing with lots of help and support, I’m still in control of every aspect of my campaign. From logistics, boat maintenance, admin, training, media and sponsors, then after comes the racing itself which in the end almost feels like my holiday.

I don’t really have a 9-5 day, in fact it tends to be 24/7. Currently my days are spent working on the boat and going through security checks in preparation for my next race. Ordering new parts, talking to sponsors and those that can only be reached during the day. At night I get on with navigation, meteo, and other admin jobs which I can do whatever time of day that doesn’t rely on day light.

What is your earliest adventurous memory?

Camping in the garden or even the living room I think has to be my earliest adventurous memory!

What three pieces of advice would you give to anyone looking to get into sailing?

Get down to a local sailing club, jump in a dinghy and just try it. What’s the worst that can happen…..you get wet!!! The response and understanding of wind direction 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 going on a dinghy course.

If you could sum up how you feeling when out on the open water in one word, what would it be?


Even when on land, sitting on the beach, I find myself just gazing out to sea, dreaming of being on the water. Being out on open water comes so naturally to me now, I feel alive, freedom and in control of everything (except the weather of course!).

Supporting Adventure: Nikki Curwen’s Transatlantic Voyage

Nikki Curwen - Living Life Adventurously

Nikki CurwenSportswoman. Sailor. Adventurer.

However you describe Nikki Curwen, her resumé is pretty impressive, which is why we’re proud to announce that we are the lead sponsor for Nikki’s 2015 transatlantic voyage.

This year Nikki will take on challenge after challenge before competing – solo – in the gruelling Mini Transat expedition.

Covering over 4,000 miles, Nikki will race across the Atlantic taking on 84 competitors all vying for the prestigious first place.

What’s more…the Mini Transat is pure back-to-basics sailing. That means no communication and only a basic GPS and paper charts for navigation. If that’s not living life adventurously we don’t know what is!

Why are we getting involved?

It’s true, single-handedly crossing the Atlantic is a far stretch from the leafy hangouts we love exploring, but we take pride in supporting those that are committed to keeping the adventure in adventure.

Speaking about the upcoming expedition, Nikki told us;

“The Transat for me, although a competitive race, it is mostly about the adventure and the challenge. I love sailing and I’m always looking for the next thing to push me that bit further.



The boats are incredibly responsive, they almost feel alive. They’re so small you can really feel the power and witness it first hand.



When I was a little kid, maybe 7 years old – I made a bet with my older sister that we would sail across the Atlantic before we flew. I can honestly say I’ve kept my deal and this year will be my first time across the pond. In a tiny little 6.5m boat, by myself!!”

Nikki Curwen Sailing

“In order to enter the Transat you have to qualify by completing 1,000 miles of races as well as a 1000 mile non stop solo passage. The race is over subscribed and unfortunately not all can go.



Once you have completed your qualification miles you can join the entry list. Having had my boat a year now, I’ve already qualified and signed up with my entry confirmed for this September.”

What’s next for Nikki?

Having just completed the Lorient BSM this weekend, a 150 mile double handed race, Nikki’s lined up a further five races before taking on the Mini Transat in September this year. She’ll take on the Pornichet Select, the Mini En Mai, MAP, and Mini Fastnet – clocking up over 1,000 additional miles.

In the coming months we’ll be following Nikki’s journey as she takes on the unimaginable challenges of solo sailing. Next week, check out our exclusive Q&A as we find out what it takes to become an offshore sailor.

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