My name is Emma Roberts and I’m the Logisitics and Operations Manager of Wild Oats. I actually grew up on a 50ft wooden ketch sailing yacht, travelling around the world with my mum and dad. I sailed around the Horn of Africa for the first time when I was 3 years old. My parents sailed right up until two weeks prior me being born and then we were back on the boat when I was 3 days old. I didn’t join civilisation properly until I was 17 years old… It meant doing most of my schooling by correspondence, while sailing around the world for 17 years. Periodically, I would fly back to the UK to do 8 weeks of shore-based schooling, before getting back on the boat and returning to the correspondence program. Maybe once a year, we would call into New Zealand and I would go to a school there for six weeks to make some friends and hang out.
I’ve been part of the Wild Oats program for 9 years now. I cam over from Spain to do the 2014 Sydney to Hobart campaign. I was only meant to be here for 2 months… but after falling in love with the entire Wild Oats family, I’m still here 9 years later.
Having missed two big races throughout COVID, this will be my 7th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. In terms of memorable moments, winning is always great! We’ve had a couple of really meaningful wins. The first time that we won the race after Bob Oatley’s passing was really big for us, as it felt as though we were rally honouring his memory and carrying on the legacy that he started.
Around the ages of 12-14, I experienced some pretty tough moments out on the water with mum and dad, where we were in such terrible conditions, that we all said goodbye to eachother because we didn’t know if we would make it out the otherside. There were two moments like that, one while we were sailing around the Horn of Africa and the other was crossing the Atlantic in terrible conditions and just taking a lot of water onboard. My parents are both very experienced sailors and they were absolutely petrified. I try not to think about that sailing nowadays. The ocean is a funny beast and you learn to read it. You know when you’re going to be in a tough spot and I think the more you do, the better you are at avoiding putting yourself in situations like that.
My advice for those young people looking to enter the yachting industry is to just surround yourself with people in the industry who are good at what they do and have a good reputation for being supportive and inclusive. Yachting can be an exclusive community and if you spend time around the right people, you will be valued and included for what you have to offer.
Make sure you always take your sunscreen and your hat when sailing. There are far too many sailors with melanomas and have their nose and ears missing.