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Crew profile: Sabra Davies returns to the fold

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sabra DaviesThanks to an all clear from her surgeon, the Georgia crew is very pleased to welcome Sabra Davies back to the boat.

At age eight she was mucking around on Lake Rotoiti, sailing her dinghy to a little island, and living the 'Swallows and Amazons' dream.

In her teens, Sabra - who currently works as Administration Manager at Orakei Marina - took up surf life saving on the West Coast, but met her husband Bryan at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in the early eighties and rediscovered sailing, crewing on a Farr 38 and competing in ladies racing on Pied Pipers and a Ross 830.

Together Bryan and Sabra owned a number of boats, including a Young 88 and Young 11, and except for the times Sabra was competing in all women's racing, they have always sailed together.

Sabra met Jim in the 90s when he had the Farr 43 Georgia the first time round, but only sailed with him once or twice. In the years following, the 43 was sold, and the 53 was launched, and both Sabra and Bryan put their racing on hold to support their children, Scott (23) and Alexandra (20).

Scott and Alexandra have each excelled at their sailing. Starting in Optimists and working up, Scott became a serious boardsailor, and travelled to the Youth Worlds in the RS:X class as part of the Yachting New Zealand team. Alexandra progressed from Optimists to Starlings and 420s, representing New Zealand at 420 Worlds in Auckland and Athens.

About six years ago Aabra joined friends including Jackie Hendy and Rhonda McCrea on a South Island tramp, and when Jim bought back the Georgia One for Rhonda to sail, Sabra joined the team.

"We have had so many memorable times on Georgia," she says. "Away regattas have always been fantastic. It's a really close team, and I hate to think what our average age is, because a lot of us are well up there, but we have a great mix with the young guys."

Sabra's many years of sailing experience mean she is versatile and can fit in to most spots on the boat, but she often works in the sewer, doing the kite work, and moving all the gear around downstairs. "I will do anything, but am usually around the middle of the boat," she says.

The launch of the 52 and stepping up to a bigger and hi-tech boat was a highlight, she says. "We were surprised how much easier the boat was - it's like a big dinghy, and beautiful to sail.  Handling the boat, with the hydraulics, makes it that much easier."

"I thought the transition was great. We all fitted in very well. We needed extra crew of course, but everyone made it work really well and when we have away regattas and bring in people like Chris Dickson, they slot in well with the base crew."

The last 18 months have been difficult ones for Sabra, who was a couple of days in to an offshore delivery aboard Starlight Express when she fell from a bunk and damaged her spine. She endured a great deal of pain on the remainder of the voyage, and later found out that she was very close to being paralyzed.

"It was a very tough delivery. After the fall I was unable to steer and found it difficult getting around the boat. I ended up having to medicate myself with some strong drugs," says Sabra.

She underwent major surgery in August, including the insertion of a titanium rods and screws in the thorasic spine to make sure the damage didn't get worse.  Ever since Sabra has been in rehab, and with an all clear from the surgeon issued just this week, is looking forward to getting back out on the water very soon.

It's hard to keep a good woman down!