By Pauline Stewart.
It sounds amazing and it is. Charlotte is your local physiotherapist at PhysioFirst, Whitianga, but for the last six months she has been based in Hamburg, Germany competing in Europe as a member of the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Tour Team.
Charlotte is one of five in the national New Zealand team and there has been a lot of challenging, world class sailing for her and her team members. Since coming home to Whitianga, she has been nursing a badly injured pinky finger - read on to find out why.
The Women’s World Match Racing Tour required the teams, including the Kiwi team (Edge Women's Match), to compete in four events around the world. The first two were in USA, in San Francisco and Annapolis; then on to Le Havre, France and the fourth was in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“We won the first event in April in San Fransisco,” says Charlotte, “And we placed second at the next event in Annapolis. Overall, we finished second in the 2023 Women’s World Match Racing Tour.”
In addition, the New Zealand team also competed in the Women’s World Match Racing championships in Middelfart, Denmark. This was in July, and we finished fourth. This is a separate event from the Match Racing Tour. “We just weren’t quite able to back-up our second-place performance which we achieved in the Worlds in 2022”.
There were other adventures and achievements awaiting Charlotte. In April, she signed on to join Mirpuri Trifork Racing Team which was one of the Volvo 65 teams competing in The Ocean Race. Charlotte was one of the race crew as a trimmer and the onboard medic and physio, a remarkable experience.
She recounts, “I joined the team for leg 6 and 7 which were the final two legs of the race. I delivered the boat from Cascais, Portugal to Aarhus, Denmark for the start of leg 6. Unfortunately, during a training session, I injured myself the day before the start of leg 6 where I nearly lost my pinky finger, so I wasn’t able to compete in leg 6 from Aarhus to the The Hague, Netherlands. Luckily my pinky remains attached and is healing well. Whilst the team was at sea for leg 6, I joined our shore crew to prepare for the next leg”. There are eleven members on board the race crew.
“I joined our team again in The Hague for leg 7, sailing from The Hague to Genoa, Italy which took just over 12 days and covered a distance of 2768 nautical miles. We were in the top 3 for the whole leg, before losing it all on the last night at sea, when we were becalmed. This meant we finished 5th in the final leg”; most unfortunate and disappointing.
“We were running watch systems of 4 hours on and 4 hours off. In the 4 hours off this is when you eat, sleep and everything in between. You never sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time.”As the medic on board, Charlotte was kept busy alongside the sailing. “During some very rough conditions, one of my teammates dislocated her shoulder and another suffered a head laceration. These were challenging to manage at sea, but it also taught me a lot”.
Charlotte’s global goal now is to work towards joining a team for the next Ocean Race in 2026/2027 and complete the full round-the-world challenge.
In November, she will be competing in her last regatta for 2023, which is the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing National Championships in Auckland.
Charlotte Porter is brave, strong and tenacious to add to her skill, experience and love of sailing. She understates her exploits on the ocean which have taken place in so many different places around the world.
We should feel very proud of Charlotte and celebrate this young woman’s achievements.
Charlotte is back working full time despite that pinky finger and hopes to continue volunteering for St Johns Ambulance. She is also looking to keep up her experience on the ocean in crewing or assisting transporting boats from one place to another. If you know of someone who needs this kind of help, contact Charlotte - email to PhysioFirst - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: Charlotte and her team racing.