North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Aaron Cole


It’s More Than Results For 19x Sydney Hobart Race Veteran Aaron Cole

The sailors and designers in the world of North Sails are some of the most inspiring people on the water, and we’re hoping to share more of their story with you. “Letter to my younger self” is a series told from our North Sails ambassadors. In each article we bring to life their advice and personal journeys centered around the question: if your “now-self” could give your “younger self” advice, what would it be?

Dear 17-Year-Old Aaron,

It’s safe to say that I’m quite proud of the person you’ve become. There are many reasons why, but one that stands out is in 2021, you’ll be gearing up to sail your 19th Sydney to Hobart. Yes, you read that right— 19! If you think it will be a rinse and repeat each year, you’re wrong; each race will be different. And trust me, after 18 races, no two have ever been the same. Getting to the start line of your nineteenth Sydney to Hobart will be an adventure and a half too, complete with stints with America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race teams as a sailmaker. And number 19 won’t be your average Sydney to Hobart either, it will also mark your amazing wife’s (Jade) tenth race. Jade is a real catch and a very good sailor. She’s so good on the boat and to do her tenth race together is pretty cool. 

However, in order to get to the top, you have to be prepared for what’s coming. It will make you a better sailor—especially in “The Great Race.” Start taking advantage of situations now, and really aim to improve your long term vision. This will prove invaluable when you’re on the water and beginning to think about doing the race. In time, your life’s motto will become “when we’re sailing, you’re better off looking at it than looking for it.”

Veterans will tell you that you can never be too prepared to race in the Sydney to Hobart and they are right.

Now, I know it’s summer and I know it’s Christmas, but young Aaron, you really must do the best job you can looking after yourself in the lead up to the race. It’s a fun time of year, it’s busy, everybody’s sailing, and all sorts of stuff is going on, but make sure you leave a little bit in the tank so you can smash it during the race. In other words, make sure to get a bit of rest in the lead up to the race (which starts the day after Christmas lunch). Set yourself up right so you can really enjoy the challenge.

One piece of advice to live by in this race is from your future boss: Ross Lloyd. He said, “do what’s best for the boat.” It’s a good way to sail. We’re always sailing on different boats, in different situations and with different people. At the end of the day it’s about getting the best out of the boat with (or for) the owner. If you focus on that, everything else falls into place. You won’t have many obstacles otherwise. Make sure the boat’s sails are right and do everything you in your power to make that happen; whether it’s little recuts here or modifications there or replacement sails when needed. Then, make sure everybody looks after the equipment, including taking care of the sails. 

The next twenty years will fly, so enjoy every moment—from the start to the finish. The result is important but it’s not everything. Stay inspired by the likes of Barney Walker; 2021 will be his 34th Sydney to Hobart! Over the years you’ll see him stay switched on, do a good job, put everything into the race and the boat, and keep pushing himself. His passion for the race is seriously inspiring (not to mention impressive).

Sail safe and enjoy your wife’s 10th race,

Story Contributors

Letter to My Younger Self: Aaron Cole headshot
Aaron Cole

Loft Manager, One Design Expert, Sail Expert — Melbourne, Australia

Aaron Cole is the Loft Manager in Melbourne and a former America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, and Audi MedCup sailmaker. Aaron has a wide range of expertise in both offshore and inshore high performance yacht racing. He's competed in 16...

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