As a female sailor, you’ve got to be fit, fearless and strong enough to take on the men. It’s not a sport FIAFitnation student Emma Jones imagined she’d pursue to elite level.
“I followed my sister into sailing when I was eight. I hated it and cried every time I went out in the boat, but soon I was the first person there on Saturday mornings and the last to leave,” Emma laughed.
Today, Emma is an elite athlete with the New South Wales Institute of Sport. She has her sights set on competing at the 2024 Summer Olympics in a Nacra 17 – a performance catamaran. Emma has competed overseas since she was 16 years old. She even did some HSC exams during a competition – the 2018 Red Bull Foiling Generation – in Miami. “That competition is my career highlight! We came sixth in the world,” Emma said.
As her life revolves around sailing, Emma needed a course and career that offered her maximum flexibility.
“Only a few people can just train and compete,” Emma said. “That’s why in the middle of my final year at school, I started a Certificate III at FIA. I wanted to be able to work as a PT while I kept studying and sailing.”
“FIA was flexible and super helpful, and, at the start, I asked for a lot of help!”, Emma said. “I live in Newcastle and couldn’t get to campus regularly, so I studied online. It meant I could keep chipping away at my studies from anywhere.”
Emma is now completing her Certificate IV at FIA. She has also done a year of Exercise and Sports Science at Newcastle University. “My Cert III helped me through my first year of uni. It also gave me an introduction to the gym that sponsors my sailing.”
When she’s not on the water, Emma trains at Crossfit Raw Commando. It’s where she did her practical hours and now runs PT sessions. “I have a great mentor there in Alex Ranieri,” she said. “I can also call on local PTs to cover me when I travel.”
When she retires from the sport, Emma would like to research strength and conditioning for sailors. “There are a lot of lower back and joint injuries, and we don’t understand enough about how to prevent them,” she said. Emma is also keen to see the sport become more gender-neutral and does what she can to encourage other women and girls to take it on.