A Fear of Water Pivots to Crossing Oceans & Mentoring Others

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Chloe Need has been running sail and race charters on her Salona 44 Moonflower 3 for the past three years. She has not always been a sailor however. She grew up in landlocked Cheshire (UK) where no-one in her family or circle of friends sailed, and, moreover, she was always terrified of the water.

When she was twenty-five, she decided it was time to get over her fear of water. Somehow, sailing found her; she took an entry level sailing course to get comfortable with being on the water, and it seemed to work. She moved on to a dinghy course then a year later earned a yacht master certification.

Fast forward three years, Need not only sails her boat Moonflower 3, which is also her home, twice a year across the Atlantic, she teaches and mentors other women to sail and race – in sometimes challenging conditions.

“I spend the summers in Europe – Croatia and Greece mostly – and then come over to the Caribbean for the winter for the regattas,” Need explained. “People find me mainly through Facebook and Instagram.”

For the BVI Spring Regatta 50th Anniversary event, Moonflower 3 is racing in the Performance Cruising A division. Need has four women on board; two French, one Italian and one from the UK, none of whom knew each other before getting on board earlier this week.

Elsbeth Keen had never set foot on a boat in her life before, but her daughter Emma works with Need and simply booked her mum to sail on Moonflower 3 for the BVI Spring Regatta.

“I’ve never sailed before in my life, but it’s going great,” Keen, from the UK, smiled, looking relaxed and comfortable in the cockpit of the Salona about to head out for a breezy race day two. “We are a good team and working well together. It is very friendly here and the sailing is absolutely brilliant.”

Louise Barrabe crossed the Atlantic with Need on Moonflower 3 earlier in the year. She hesitated when asked if she was a sailor, then laughing, she replied, “I am now!” Barrabe, who is from France, has fallen in love with sailing and would love to stay on the boat, but she’s just finished her studies in business and management so thinks she probably needs to go home (the author of this story suggested that she stay on the boat).

Scrub Island Race, BVISR 2023. www.ingridabery.com Copyright Ingrid Abery 2023.

From Italy, Alvira Astolar had sailed previously but only as a cruiser before joining Moonflower 3 this week. The BVI Spring Regatta is her first time sailing in a regatta, so she is here to learn how to race; this week she has been trimming jib and managing the pit.

“I move the girls around the boat, so everyone learns a different position,” Need explained. “I do the tactics, but always talk things through with the group before we head out on the racecourse each day.”

Garnering local sailing knowledge has not been too difficult, Need added. “We go to the regatta village and make some friends to get the local knowledge,” she laughed. “Leo on Taz has been our go-to!”

It’s a lot to take on newbies to the sport who have little to zero sailing experience and either take them across the Atlantic or teach them to race in 15-20 knots of breeze with just a few days of coaching but the outcome is almost always positive, Need commented.

“We spend the first few days of the trip training and then we just jump straight into it, doing what we can, and yes, we have had the spinnaker up this week,” Need laughed. “I do love the BVI as we don’t get a lot of breeze in the summer in Croatia and Greece. The BVI is perfect for sailing, the Sir Francis Drake Channel surrounded by the islands makes the water a little flatter and with the good breeze, it’s great sailing.”

Need’s Caribbean regatta trips, which this year included St Maarten, BVI Spring Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week are women-only while during the summer in Europe she mixes it up to include marine conservation trips for both men and women. Moonflower 3 heads back across the Atlantic to Europe after Antigua which Need says will take about five weeks and translates to a lot of work, she added.

“You have to keep on top of the maintenance when you are doing the two crossings a year, she’s actually a strong boat but still, it’s a lot of work!” – Michelle Slade

Scrub Island Race, BVISR 2023. www.ingridabery.com Copyright Ingrid Abery 2023.