On Tuesday 21st June 2016, Cerno Capital hosted an evening at the Royal Thames Yacht Club with a special talk by sailor and adventurer Hannah White.
A combination of nautical-themed cocktails, delicious oysters from the Oystermen and an engaging speech by Hannah herself made for a fantastic evening, covered by journalist Laura Winter below.
British people love to moan about the weather.
And why shouldn’t we? It is unpredictable and unseasonal at best, downright horrid at worst.
So far this year we have been treated to never-ending storms, gale-force winds, flash floods and frost in Spring. Even on the first day of summer, it poured.
Yet the sun was shining on Cerno Capital’s Summer Drinks, as sailor, adventurer, and TV presenter Hannah White explained why her weather gripes are more extreme than most to a select gathering at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge.
The weather has wreaked havoc on Project Speedbird, her mission to become the fastest woman on water over 500m and one nautical mile.
The attempt, which was scheduled between March and May of this year, will see 32-year-old White try to break windsurfer Zara Davis’s current record, a challenge which hinges on wind speed, direction and water temperature.
“It has been so frustrating to wait but we just haven’t had the weather. The wind has either been gale-force, or nothing at all,” the BT Sport presenter explained, at the exclusive event organised by her sponsors Cerno Capital.
“I think about breaking this record, that moment on the water, every day. That’s the goal, and that is what I have to think about.
“Even when I’m switched off now, spending time with my family, that is still the goal and if I don’t think about it then I’ll take my foot off the pedal, and that’s not good.
“I can’t wait for that moment because it will be such a huge milestone in our development.”
“But nobody has been on the water. Our opportunities to do the record have been really limited, as has our time to train on the water too.
“The whole thing has been knocked back. You end up in a situation where you are running out of time and you are trying to force it and that’s not the right thing to do.
“The right thing to do is take your time and be really patient. But for an incredibly impatient person like me, it’s been incredibly frustrating!”
Speedbird, the 35kg hydrofoil sponsored by Land Rover, is currently at the International Festival of Business in Liverpool attracting the most regal of visitors – the Queen.
While White looks forward to meeting her majesty, she admits the three-week Festival has been the enforced break she desperately needed.
“The Festival has been the best thing that ever happened to me!” she laughed.
“It’s been an enforced break and before that I was going crazy. My whole life would be obsessing about the weather. Every five minutes I would look at the wind on an app on my phone.
“My coach lives down in Devon too, so there are a lot of factors to getting everyone together. You’d drive for hours and then get to the lake and there would be no wind.
“It’s a waste of money, a waste of time. It’s been the perfect time, this three weeks, great commercially and also amazing because I have had a break to do ordinary things like spend time with my nephew who has just turned four. That has been very cathartic for me.”
White held the elite audience captive telling her tale, explaining why she has swapped endurance for speed and what challenges she is facing in training for this epic record attempt.
For a woman who has made three trans-Atlantic crossings, cycled the Alps and kayaked through England, a 500m dash across Graham Water in Cambridgeshire should be straightforward.
But White, who is recently married, believes the test of raw speed is her toughest challenge yet and she hopes to break the 500m record in July or August before attempting the nautical mile abroad.
Guests, who represented both sailing and business communities, were also invited to ask questions. These ranged from, “how dangerous is the attempt?” to “can you swim?”
Answers? “Yes it’s dangerous, as a broken wrist and a black eye have shown me, but don’t tell my mum”, and “no, I hate swimming!”
She also joked about her ever-increasing upper body strength and muscles, much to her husband James’s bemusement, as well as stealing part of his combine harvester to use in the boat.
His poor harvest won’t matter so much if she breaks the record, of course.
White’s determination, guts and spirit shone through and the audience, who enjoyed Cerno Capital’s summer-themed cocktails and oysters, were nothing short of inspired.
Follow Hannah White’s journey at http://www.projectspeedbird.com/
Laura Winter is a sports journalist, presenter and event host. She worked in sports communications for the International Rowing Federation for two years, before working and training as a journalist in Gloucestershire, covering a variety of sports including rugby, boxing, football, and triathlon.