Tripping with: Hannah White

This week’s Tripping With guest is Hannah White who has over the last 10 years, made a mark for herself as one of the UK’s most talented and successful single-handed offshore sailors. At only 29, Hannah has achieved quite a lot, including being the youngest woman to compete in the world’s toughest single-handed ocean races, the OSTAR (original single handed transatlantic race), in 2005. She was most recently the official MC for the Volvo Ocean Race which took place over 39,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, Cape Horn, Itajaí, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient.

Hannah White

Hannah, you have over the last 10 years, made a mark for yourself as one of the UK’s most talented and successful single-handed offshore sailors. What inspired you to take up sailing?

It was my best friend at school who got me into sailing -bizarrely, none of my family sail. My friends family invited me to go to Cowes Week with them, little did I know at the time that it is the largest sailing regatta in the world on the Isle of Wight. We were 15, and I had such a great time, the social life was brilliant! But aside from that, when I wasn’t being seasick, I absolutely loved being on the water and was determined that when I came back the following year I would be more than just deck fluff. I wanted to make a difference to the team.

Your career, both as an award-winning offshore sailor and a broadcaster, takes you to so many places around the world. Which is the best place you’ve ever travelled to for work?

I have been lucky enough to travel to every continent in the last 9 months alone. A couple of months ago I went to Itajai in Brazil, which was great and I would love to spend some more time in south America. But actually some of the most fun places have been closer to home. I was in Galway, Ireland for the end of the Volvo Ocean Race and despite the dreadful weather it was so much fun. One of the most wonderful and unusual places I have been are the Azores Islands in the middle of the Atlantic. They were amazing, the sea life is incredible as they are right in the gulf stream, I have never seen so many whales and dolphins!

Hannah White providing live commentary from board. Photo courtesy of Chris Davies/WMRT

Where would you recommend sailing enthusiasts to travel to?

There are some amazing places to see around the world from the water, but I have always loved sailing in Sweden, the archipelago outside of Stockholm has 32,000 islands just ready for you to anchor off, and have a BBQ. Although if you are going to sail there, make sure you have some very good charts – lots and lots of rocks. Croatia as well provides some wonderful, cost effective sailing.

Best place you’ve travelled to during your leisure time?

Most of the travelling I have done has been work related, but I do try and make sure I get some downtime when I am away for long periods of time. I recently went to New Zealand for the first time ever, and you don’t get a better playground than here: sailing, cycling, skiing, fabulous scenery – it seriously is one of the most amazing places in the world.

How about the worst holiday you’ve ever gone on ever?

I think I am lucky enough to say I have never been on a bad holiday. I am not sure if that says more about the amount of holidays I have been on, or that I am just very lucky! I did go away to Dublin a few years ago, and everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. From having to evacuate our apartment mid-shower due to a fire alarm, to missing our flight home. This was also at a time, when none of us could really afford to be in Dublin anyway! But it was all more of an adventure rather than a bad holiday.

Hannah White, exercising at dusk.

You’ve recently pledged to get 100,000 members of the general public to take part in a health or fitness challenge, with your mission being to encourage, ambition, confidence, pride and well being, across the country. With the great August holiday just around the corner, do you have any tips on how we can stay healthy and fit during our travels?

We are so lucky in this country to have so much wonderful countryside and coastlines. And there is so much resource to find out where to go. My advice for the August Bank Holiday is scoop up the whole family, or your mates and head somewhere you have never been before, and go for a good old walk. Even if it is pouring with rain you can still have fun, and it will give you lots of stories to recount. If the weather is bad, reward yourself with a pub lunch, if the sun is shining take a picnic – it’s so easy not to do it, but it’s so so much fun, and gives you such a sense of making the most of your days.

 Which is the best hotel you’ve ever stayed at in the course of your many travels?

Tough question, as so many of them are great for different reasons. The St Regis in Abu Dhabi was absolutely incredible – I had my own butler, and the breakfast buffet was out of this world. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is just incredible with the most amazing roof top infinity pool. But to be honest, I am just as happy in a little house on the beach!

How about most memorable meal you’ve had while on the road?

I was in Sanya in China (nicknamed the “Hawaii of China”) and our local collegues took us out for dinner on the beach. It was amazing, totally local, we picked the fish we wanted to eat from the tanks by the kitchen, sat on plastic chairs, with stray dogs roaming around – but the food was amazing, the view was spectacular, and I think it cost about £2 per person!

 Dream trip?

Antarctica. I have spent a lot of time at sea, and I am now desperate to see the stunning views that come with polar regions (even Greenland would do!). I love the space, the freedom, the lack of people and how wonderfully empowered you feel by the isolation.

Lastly, what does the future hold for you?

The future is super busy and exciting; I am continuing my sports broadcasting and will be presenting the Extreme Sailing Series in September which starts in Cardiff and then goes to Italy, France and Brazil which will be great. Beyond that my focus is going entirely into the new project and inspiring and helping more people to take up a personal challenge of their own. My target is 100,000 people in this country – so I have definitely got my work cut out!!

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