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MEET A MAIDEN: ALISON KENT

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Doyle sailmaker and sailing star Alison Kent recently joined The Maiden Factor on their week long crossing from Sydney to Auckland. An American sailor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Alison started an apprenticeship with Doyle Sails New Zealand 2 years ago and has since developed into an exceptional sailmaker working on some of Doyle's most challenging downwind projects.

Maiden's Skipper Wendy Tuck comments, "The Doyle team have been outstanding, considering the sails have sailed 1/2 way round the world and they are still looking great. We were particularly lucky to have Gator [Alison Kent] on board from Sydney to learn more about how our sails were made."

Alison's blog post below details her recent trip with the historic yacht which first sailed to Auckland 30 years ago with her all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race.

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Written by Alison Kent

4th April 2019

What an exciting week this has been onboard Maiden! I’m lucky to have been able to sail with ladies that are so in tune with a boat. The permanent crew members have been patient in teaching me the best ways to sail Maiden and have also showed me techniques that best fit certain manoeuvres.

The opportunity this project provides to sailors like me are huge. It's not just the miles, but the time on the helm in big wind and swell, listening to mentors as they teach you small adjustments and skills that make the boat go. These are opportunities that I might not get sailing locally.

Any chance you get to go onboard a new boat with new crew, I see as a learning opportunity. Lessons have been small and large, from perfecting the exact moment to bringing the boat down the wave to catch the next one seamlessly, to snapping into action when your sail loses sheets and becomes a flag in 30 knots of breeze to launching the team into a choreographed dance to safely bring it down. These experiences on Maiden have been so valuable and I will take them with me on every boat I step on in the future.

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"New Zealand in sight! I'm at the helm and Sharon Ferris-Choat is putting up the NZ flag while singing the national anthem - great performance!"

When I’m not sailing, I have a full time job as a sailmaker at Doyle Sails NZ – I work on the floor in the downwind department. I am continually learning everyday in the loft – about sails, shape, loads, and new designs. I am lucky to be working in a loft that is full of experienced sailors, designers, and sailmakers. My goal is to take the things I learn about sails from of the loft and apply it out on the water.

I am also a part of the NZ Women’s Match Race Team, as their bow. We had an exciting first year as a team, and it looks like this next one is gearing up to be equally, if not more, exciting and full of potential. We are looking at regattas all over the world – Asia, USA, Europe, and Australia. Watch out for those up and coming sailor chicks – they’re tough and giving the boys a run for their money!

Alongside that, I am always looking for new sailing opportunities as they come – I love the challenge of offshore sailing and becoming one with the boat as the days go by. Keeping her fast, safe, and in one piece. I'm looking forward to more of these kind of gigs.

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"Moving quickly with the Doyle J3 up."

Thank you again to the amazing ladies of Maiden for taking me on, letting me become part of the team. I cannot wait to cross paths with each and every one of you in the future. Sail fast and safe, we will be rooting for you all the way around!

This leg, although one of the shorter ones, was both fun and challenging. The girls sailing this boat are fantastic – what a great combination of talent. Good luck to them as they continue their sail around the world and thank you for the opportunity! Go The Maiden!

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"Passing by sail rock, almost home to Auckland!"

Learn more about The Maiden Factor and their mission here

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