Ayton returns to the Extreme Sailing Series™ – behind the microphone
She’s got two Olympic gold medals and an OBE, was named World Sailor of the Year and is one of the only women to lift the Extreme Sailing Series™ trophy. Now British sailing hero Sarah Ayton is adding another string to her bow – as an expert commentator.
Ayton was the tactician for Leigh McMillan’s all-powerful The Wave, Muscat crew that swept to victory in the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series. When the Extreme Sailing Series switched to foiling GC32 catamarans Ayton changed tack, moving into coaching to impart her wisdom on a new generation of sailors.
With the Extreme Sailing Series travelling to Cardiff, Ayton has been called upon to provide punditry as the event is broadcast live. It’s a welcome return for the 36-year-old, one of the most popular faces on the global Stadium Racing tour.
“It’s great to be back involved with the Extreme Sailing Series and seeing these new boats in action,” she said. “The GC32s have made the event a whole different game – they’re foiling, they’re more physically demanding and the racing is closer than ever.
“I’m not on the water here in Cardiff but talking about the racing instead in the commentary box. The breeze is fresh to frightening so there will be plenty to talk about. I’m really excited to be here. It’s where our sport is going and it’s great to be part of it.”
Ayton swept to fame in 2004 as part of Shirley Robertson’s gold medal-winning Yngling crew before returning four years later to successfully defend her title. She retired from sailing in 2011 to look after her two young sons, but the draw of the sport was too much and in 2014 she signed with The Wave, Muscat.
A year later the team were crowned Extreme Sailing Series champions at the tour finale in Sydney, Australia. To top the year off Ayton was named International Sailing Federation Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2015, the highest accolade in sailing.
“My first year on the Extreme Sailing Series was 2014 sailing with Leigh McMillan and The Wave, Muscat, and last year we won the series which was pretty sweet,” she said. “From that I was awarded World Sailor of the Year so that was an amazing way to finish off the Series.
“For these guys it’s all about the win. It amazes me seeing these guys chilling out on shore and then they turn into animals once they’re on the water. Each team wants to win – everyone wants to be the ones stood there at the finale on the top of the podium.”
You can hear Ayton commentating on Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series live on the event Youtube channel today from 1515 to 1645 BST, and on YouTube and BT Sport Europe from 1530 to 1700 tomorrow.