It begins with a love of being outdoors. And becomes a shaping influence. Outdoor heroes are the ones that celebrate time spent outdoors. And help others find their wellness outdoors too. Coaches, High performance athletes, adventurers, gardeners, walkers, conservationists. Everyday people. Outdoors
As an adventure guide my work and lifestyle has taken me to some of the world’s most amazing places and allowed me to share time with fascinating people from all walks of life. I also have a competitive streak which I have allowed to creep into a few of my recreational past times. This has taken me to the top of the world in four different sports, both team and individual. I love to share these stories with my two daughters as they fossick through the trophy cabinet.
This year has helped me realise how fortunate I have been with the freedom and relative low cost of international travel for work and sport, in fact maybe I took it for granted. It has also been a marathon of working, restructuring our outdoor business Best Foot Forward to cope with the uncertain market, building a new house and maintaining a healthy family balance. The outdoors gives me an opportunity to push my reset button. I get out there and enjoy spending time alone, or with others, without any devices.
I have the dream of representing NZ at the Olympic games and bringing home a medal. For me though, it’s more than just the result. I love the life that sailing to the highest level allows me to live-traveling around the world, being out on the ocean, going to sleep knowing I’m doing all I can to become the best possible sailor and athlete I can. I also am striving on working to use my position and knowledge to help and inspire young sailors coming through. And also to encourage those young people to care for the oceans we are so lucky to have as our playground.
I need to be outdoors to feel energized and happy. For me moving my body and getting fresh air is as important as food and water. Sailing and spending time on the water gives me a true sense of freedom and being present. I crave to get away from the distractions of technology, the time-wasting of traffic, and the constant nag of to-do lists. I try to do something outdoors every day, which isn’t hard because of all the sailing I do. On the other days, I will go for a hike or a run or bike ride.
I have previously been in Colorado training and racing trying to become the best skier I can be and maybe one day represent our country at the highest level. This 2019/20 Winter I will be heading back to the USA for another winter season. I also train here in New Zealand basing myself in Wanaka, skiing at Cardrona Alpine Resort every day.
Being outdoors is super important to me in so many ways. I just love that feeling of flying down the mountain, getting a pow shot in the face or just exploring somewhere I’ve never been before. It’s a sense of freedom that will never be able to find anywhere else.
Growing up in Gisborne meant I was immersed in the outdoors from a young age, whether it was the house spent building huts in amongst the bushes, learning to surf, cycle touring in the summer holidays, to now spending over 20 hours per week training in the sport of Canoe Sprint (flat water sprint kayaking). I am currently in the New Zealand High Performance Women’s Squad based in Auckland.
Whether it’s training on the lake, having dinner at the beach, or watching my favourite sunsets, being outdoors is important to me because it is where I spend time with the people I love and where I feel the best version of myself physically and mentally. The experiences outdoors that I have shared with others have created some of my fondest memories, not just the crossing the line at a world championship but also the simple treasures of family volleyball at Christmas, toasting marshmallows on a bonfire, or smelling the native bush after it has rained. The outdoors has become an integral part of my personal life and my relationships with friends and family.
When we moved to the Bay of Islands I was seven years old. I became a water girl, joining a swim club and a learn to sail group. That was when my love for sailing sparked. Ever since then I’ve had a deep appreciation for all things related to water. I am currently a skipper in catamarans, both the Nacra 15 and the Olympic class boat, the Nacra 17. These two-person boats can travel pretty fast in some good breeze. The Nacra 17 will even lift up onto its foils. In the last year, I have competed with a sailing partner in the Nacra 15 Youth Worlds held in Poland and two Nacra 17 Worlds, held in New Zealand and Australia. There are not many women skippers in the world, and I’m proud to be able to do this job well, especially because I only just turned 16 years old. I want to keep sailing as much as I can, there’s so much to do.
The ocean always helps clear my mind and cleanse my soul. Being on the water puts me in a great mood. I love the feeling I get after spending a day outside especially in a rugged or remote environment. That’s what I love about sailing so much, it’s the ability to experience something that I know not many other people are able to experience.
I have been outdoors all my life as my parents were both super into the outdoors. We were raised with tramping, kayaking, and playing outside as the norm. . . at the age of 8 I was introduced to sailing. It soon became my main sport and by my teenage years, I was actively working towards going to the Olympics. This dream came true in 2012 when I competed in the London Games, sailing in the 3 person keelboat. My goal is to now medal at the Tokyo Games. Japan is super hot in the summer so we need to make sure we take the best care possible of our skin when we are outside.
In a world where technology is taking over, it’s so refreshing to be outside and emerged in the elements. Nothing beats a good day in the water!
Sarah is an adventure athlete and co-founder of Zeenya sportswear company in New Zealand. Last year she competed in the Rarotonga Marathon, Spirited Women Adventure Race and Breca 7 hour swim/run in the Bay of Islands. She has just become the mum of twins!