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From Sailor to Ship Scientist to PhD in Americas' cup team... to the Olympics!

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

My name is Laura Marimon Giovannetti. I graduated from the University of Southampton with MEng first class (hons) in ship science in 2013. I chose to study ship science as I have been sailing since I was 6, and my passion for maths and physics linked with my passion for sailing has allowed me to pursue my academic career.

Whilst studying, I was still competing internationally, representing my country at international events, and World and European Championships, and I just missed my spot for the London Olympics in 2012, finishing second at the trials in the Laser Radial. When I graduated I wanted to continue my studies and so I embarked upon a PhD at the University of Southampton. The title of my thesis was tailored around me, as I was investigating the interactions between a fluid and the structure of a foil (i.e. a hydrofoil that can lift a boat out of the water to decrease the overall drag of the sailing boat allowing the boat to sail faster than the wind!).

After one year at the University of Southampton, where I used the wind tunnel extensively, and the computer power from our clusters, I was contacted by the CFD team at Ben Ainslie Racing to complete my PhD together with their design team. I was so happy I couldn’t believe it! It was such an honour for me to work in the design group of an America’s Cup team, it had always been my dream… and it was coming true!!

I spent the next two years working part time with them, and part time at the University of Southampton on my PhD. At the beginning of my PhD I had put aside my sailing career, but the excitement of working on my PhD and with BAR soon had me steppingback into a boat, this time a Nacra 17. And so, after finishing my PhD and a brief part-time Post Doc period, I decided it was time to be serious about my Olympic dream. I have been sailing with Chris Rashley in the Nacra 17 since January 2017, and we have been sailing full time for the British Sailing Team since October 2017, working hard on the sailing but also on the technical side of our campaign, in the hope of winning a medal in Tokyo 2020!

My Advice to young girls is: always pursue your dreams, big or small. If you have a passion, make it your strength - maybe one day it can become your career!!

Laura Marimon Giovannetti

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