Paddy wearing Gill kit Dinghy sailing

Exclusive Interview with British Offshore Sailor Paddy Hutchings

How did you get into sailing? And when did you decide it was something you really wanted to pursue?

I started off sailing with a local charity when I was 10 years old. They were a great group of people and were so enthusiastic about introducing young people into sailing and encouraging them to continue in the sport. They were passionate about every part of the sport from offshore to dinghy sailing and this gave me a great taste of all the different disciplines. I think I sailed just about every day most summers! Although I decided I wanted to chase sailing at a young age it didn’t become a possibility until I went on a family holiday to Alicante, the home of the Ocean Race, where my parents persuaded me not to go to university and follow my dream of sailing.

What is it that you enjoy about double-handed racing? And how excited are you about the prospect of the mixed double-handed class at the Olympics? 

Double-handed racing allows you to compete to the absolute max, physically pushing yourself as far as possible. When sailing double-handed, you control every factor onboard the boat and it is down to you and one other to perform your absolute best, in comparison to a fully crewed boat with many more people sharing these jobs, in which you are still important but only a small cog within the workings. Working together on the boat is also great, especially when you achieve your goals, and the satisfaction of this is second to none!

 I am also really excited about the new double handed class in the Olympics, as it gives a platform to showcase our discipline of sailing towards a wider audience and hopefully get more people interested in the sport. Personally, it gives prospects of the Olympics in the future, which I thought would not be possible when I chose to pursue offshore sailing. It also gives a better pathway to get into short-handed sailing as it breaks down barriers to help get into the sport. 

What is the hardest part of sailing longer races (rather than round the cans) and why do you love it so much?

There are quite a few challenges when you think about the long-distance and time that you are doing in these races. Personally, managing sleep in close racing scenarios can be hard, you need to learn when is best to push yourself and when you need to rest in order to get the optimum racing times and pace yourself. Another part can be when things don’t necessarily go your way. It is easy to think about the negatives, but I always like to think of scenarios as not the event defining the outcome, it’s the reaction to the event that produces the outcome. There are lots of opportunities to thrive in a long race, so it’s best not to let the negative aspects knock you down. My mum and I talk about this a lot, and it seems to help in most bad situations!

You have recently got a Moth – what do you like about sailing the Moth (compared to other types of boats) and how much do you see the foiling movement as the future of sailing?

Recently I have got a Mach 2 moth and have been sailing around the Plymouth sound, trying to get to grips with the new type of sailing. It can be hard in winter but luckily I have the Gill kit to keep me warm while I learn the ropes. I’ve loved learning something completely new and thinking about the fundamentals of sailing differently, even if it means swimming every time I go sailing (Hopefully not for too much longer though!!). The reason why I bought the moth is that I see the future of sailing, especially in performance classes, in foiling. I’ve already seen this in a lot of sailing I have done, with foiling Imoca 60’s and Figaro 3’s. I think the moth, although different to the offshore boats, some of the skills are fundamental and transferable. It will be interesting to see where offshore classes like the Imoca’s and Ultimes go in terms of foiling, the safety with it and also the speed advantages, but for sure, I think it will help define the future of our sport and is definitely here to stay.

What is your next big event and what are your medium to longer terms objectives in terms of your sailing career?

I have recently come off the back of working with Pip Hare for her Vendee Globe campaign. This was an amazing and eye-opening opportunity working with Pip and learning from her hard work has certainly refocused my goals for offshore sailing, with my focus moving back onto competing in some of the world’s biggest shorthanded racing.

Long term the Vendee Globe and the Olympics are my top goals, and prior to this, it is all about building a campaign for these events, whether that be in class 40 or the Figaro circuit. I also see myself becoming integrated into the French offshore sailing as I believe it is vital to sail with the best, and this consistently shows in competitions.

It can be difficult to say during the times what exactly is coming up with Covid-19 but with the end in sight the TJV is at the end of the year and I would love to be involved in that. The Moth Worlds are also in Italy and I think this will be a great event too.

What would we find in your kit bag?

In my kit bag for dinghy racing, I have recently been using the Gill Zentherm skiff suit and top. This is both warm and flexible to sail in. I have also been using the Gill Pursuit jacket before and after I sail, which is perfect for keeping me motivated on colder days.

For offshore my kit bag is a bit more interesting. A must is my Gill x Armadillo merino wool base layer, which is again amazing for keeping me warm and wicking away moisture from my body. Some more essentials include Sudocream which is has a lot of uses during sailing and headphones for music, as I have many playlists while sailing. The Gill kynance sunglasses and the technical marine sunhat also means I am prepared for every weather.

You’re the face of Gills new dinghy collection. Which item out of the new collection were you most impressed with?

Overall, I am really impressed with the quality and comfort of the neoprene products. The first time I wore them was on the shoot before the range was released, we spent 8 hours on the water every day for multiple days and never once did I feel uncomfortable, which I have struggled with before with other brands. Gill has really tried to think about what the sailor needs and create a great collection for a wide variety of sailors. Specifically, I have loved my Zentherm skiff suit, as I see it as a versatile bit of kit that has kept me both warm and comfortable. A new bit of kit that I love is the eco pro rash vest which is made from plastic bottles, which shows Gills environmental awareness and consideration for turning plastic waste into clothes.  

What piece of advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking up sailing?

I would tell people who are thinking about sailing to appreciate and harness every opportunity that comes their way. Sailing has offered me, and many other people experiences that I could never have dreamt of, from travelling to amazing places and meeting people who enrich my life with their knowledge and stories about sailing. It has ignited a passion and I feel grateful to have that in my life as it gives me something to focus on and dreams to strive for. People considering it should go for it, there’s not one day where I regret it!


Written by Gill.

Published on 10th August 2021 in Sailing

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