Women’s sailing festival ‘Steering the Course’ ‘You need passion and love to sail,’ Alison Hoareau |09 October 2021
Sports NATION:How and when did you get involve in sailing?
Alison Hoareau: It all started at the age of four. My brother was a swimmer and I wanted to do swimming as well. My father, who is a past sailor, introduced my brother to sailing and being a nosey little girl, I also wanted to get involved. At the age of 8, the minimum age to join the sailing classes, my dad signed me up in the Optimist category. I was so in love with that sport that when there was no wind, I would get so feisty and throw tantrums. At the age of 11, I quit swimming and devoted all my time to sailing. The following year I went for my first international competition which was held in Mombasa, Kenya. I was accompanied by three male sailors and my coach.
Sports NATION:How do you find sailing?
Alison Hoareau: First of all, sailing is a sport of discipline, and because of doing this sport, I’ve developed a certain discipline of how to tackle daily tasks, critical thinking, control of my emotions, independence, handling stress and so many more. From being a nosey little girl to being the best female sailor means this sport has developed and groomed me into a bigger and better person.
Sports NATION:What are the main difficulties you have faced as a sailor?
Alison Hoareau: Sailing has always been considered a masculine sport which means I was racing against boys and had to fight for a position. At one point you wouldn’t even notice me because we all dress in shorts, T-shirts, and hats. During the 16 years I have been doing this sport, I've encountered many difficulties. Also because of my height and weight, it’s not recommended that I compete in certain class (laser 4.7) but I insist on doing it. I have sustained many injuries which can easily affect my position during a race. The fact that I was the only girl in sailing, I started losing confidence and motivation.
Sports NATION:What motivates you?
Alison Hoareau: Somehow, I manage to use the many challenges to motivate myself to keep going and keep aiming higher. I have been able to convert all the negativity into strength which is what makes me more determined, patient and most importantly even on a bad day of racing I remain humble and enjoy the struggle. The other important thing was to master the art of how to compete at your best, how to cope with stress, tricks to handle pressure and challenges, develop personal strategies by tackling my weakness first and whatever you do always think of your goal and don’t let anything or anyone distract you from reaching it. My personal motto before each race is: “Have I come here to participate or to compete?” Because if mentally I convince myself that I have come to participate then I ask why all the sacrifices, training, and time and energy invested. But if I come for races ready to compete I am more focused on my goal and I have the full power feeling I am the one in control.
Sports NATION: What are some of your achievements?
Alison Hoareau: Because of my passion and efforts, I got the chance to take part in a number of competitions both locally and internationally. I am also blessed to have won a few of the competitions. I have also won the female sailor of the year award three times ‒ in 2012, 2014 and 2015. I also managed to win two silver medals at the Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG) in 2015 in Reunion. I was a bronze medallist in a competition in India, and also won two medals ‒ a silver and a bronze ‒ in the annual regional competition. The one and most memorable accomplishment was when I qualified for the Youth World Championships after finishing among the top five ladies in the African region and I also got the chance to go to the Olympic qualifiers where I ranked fourth place in Algeria.
Sports NATION: One last word for the girls and other female sailors.
Alison Hoareau: First of all, passion and love are needed for you to sail. After knowing what your vision and goals are, it is then that you will find comfort in what you do. Lastly, no matter how bad your day or races went, always stick to your game plan.
Compiled by Gerard Govinden