James Harayda

Before the traineeship I was finishing my high school studies in Singapore where I was competing heavily in the Laser and SB20 classes. I was very passionate about sailing however did not get many opportunities to move into yacht racing. This is when I was searching for gap year opportunities to fulfil this change and I found the traineeship.

I had sailed with Andy Middleton in Cowes Week 2014 where he first mentioned the incredible opportunity the company offers. This was my first international yacht racing regatta and as does everyone who tries the sport, I caught the bug – young and hard. Very quickly I starting wanting to pursue the Sydney to Hobart and eventually the Volvo Ocean Race or TP52 Series. The traineeship was an open door into the premier yacht racing scene and seemed like the perfect way to get my foot in and begin the road of achieving my dreams.

During the traineeship I went from being very new to the idea of racing big boats to fully understanding the industry and the process of preparing and racing yachts at a high level. As well as a steep learning curve in my sailing ability, I quickly learnt important people skills and the ability to befriend crews from all over the world with all different backgrounds. The traineeship threw me into the deep end. From living with my parents and going to school to be preparing, planning and racing yachts hundreds of miles from shore. I spent almost the entirety of my 10 months, eating, sleeping, working and thinking about yachts. Despite the learning, the program enabled me to travel to several of the most beautiful and rewarding places in the world. Some are beautiful and pristine and some were rugged and dangerous. Although there is a certain level of glamour involved in sipping rosé on Nikki Beach in St. Barths, it isn’t always like this. Sweaty, smelly, cramped and tough are just a few words that spring into mind when I think of my time on the traineeship. From the mundane chores like cleaning bilges to polishing the hulls of yachts under the sweltering Caribbean sun, it is expected that you will be an integral part of the company and perform with a level of professionalism when with clients and around the docks. The industry is small and a bad reputation is difficult to correct.

Although it is tough and even moments of questioning your decision to take on the traineeship, the experience is a rewarding one and you get to meet some incredible people, become a fantastic sailor and leave with certificates and contacts that will be forever important in pursuing a career in the industry. Since completing the traineeship, I have competed in the Sydney Hobart, as bowman on the TP52 WotEva and been boat captain on-board a 56ft race boat based out of Newport, Rhode Island. I am now at university in the UK and regularly competing in the yacht racing with GYR and other teams. The close bond and support from GYR does not finish once you’ve stepped onto the dock at the end of your traineeship, it continues well into the future and has
played a large part in the racing I am doing currently.

And remember, always bring two pairs of everything!