Nikki Curwen_750_2

Harken Interview with Sponsored Mini Sailor Nikki Curwen


You have been sailing since you were very young, what made you decide to get into racing?

I learnt to sail in an Optimist in Chichester Harbour, and then moved into the Cadet. My older sister started racing at Frensham Pond when I was seven, and every Saturday I got dragged along and had to watch. I was keen to get involved myself and soon found a helm and started racing every weekend.

You’re currently campaigning to compete in the 2015 Mini Transat, a solo yacht race across the Atlantic in a 6.5 metre boat with only basic charts and GPS navigation. What is it about this race that makes you want to compete?

There’s definitely an element of risk and adventure that appeals to me. And although the Mini is a lot about adventure and exploration with eighty four boats it’s also a very competitive fleet. With very little navigation and electronics on board it’s down to the sailor and their skill. The boat itself is like a dinghy, it’s hard not to love it and you can really feel the sensation when she gets going.

What are your future goals for either solo or team based racing?

Beyond the Mini I’d look to take the next step up in offshore racing and compete in the Route de Rhum, TJV and eventually the Vendee Globe.

Who has been your biggest influence in your sailing career?

My family has always been a huge influence to my sailing. My Mum was a huge support travelling the country with me during my dinghy days in Cadets. While my Dad introduced / taught and gave me the opportunity to learn the skill and love of two handed and solo sailing.

You recently became a Harken sponsored sailor, why did you seek sponsorship from Harken in particular?

The Mini is a very powerful boat and the conditions sailed in are often risky and intense. I’ve always used Harken; I trust your products and the service you provide – something I value for peace of mind at sea. I have a wide use of your products from blocks and pulleys, main tracks and winch handles.

How essential is hardware maintenance for your race campaign and what advice do you have for keeping your kit in top condition?

I try to maintain my hardware as much as possible, I check my winches before every race and give them a quick clean, lubricating my track and pulleys, and generally keeping an eye on any wear. It’s very important for solo offshore sailing, as when you’re at sea your equipment is getting used 24/7 and trying to fix something while at sea can be difficult.

What is it about sailing solo that’s so appealing?

I enjoy being alone at sea, and the challenge of being in control of everything on the boat.

Are there any particularly memorable moments you’ve had from your solo races so far?

My first race this year we (the boat and I) were screaming along surfing down the waves at twelve to thirteen knots. It was pitch black with phosphorescence everywhere lighting up the sea. The waves crashing over my bow, my wake behind and white horses across the sea, were all lit up, such an amazing feeling. Made even better when a pod of dolphins came to play, I could see their tracks swimming along under water beside me. It was my first real surfing conditions in the new boat and she just took off.  There was a definite wahoo moment…

What advice do you have for other sailors with dreams of doing the Mini Transat or other solo offshore races?

I’d say offer to help other sailors with deliveries, get an experience for the boat, then move up and try do some races two handed on someone else’s. By then you will know if it’s your cup of tea and can go from there.

What plans do you have beyond the Mini Transat in 2015?

I haven’t got anything fixed beyond 2015, at the moment it’s all goals and aspirations. 

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