“Foiling is addictive, when you’re not quite in control and going really fast it gives you a big adrenalin rush and once you’ve had that you look for it again and again.”
• Who inspired you to start sailing? My Dad
• First boat? A wooden sabot called ‘Tron’
• First sailing club? Wangi Amateur Sailing Club
• When did you know you wanted sailing to be a career rather than a hobby? I've always thought of sailing as a hobby, I guess I'm just lucky that it has turned into a career
• What do you love most about sailing? Competing
• What has sailing taught you? Teamwork and commitment
• Favourite ever sailing race? Last race of the London 2012 Olympic games
• How do you keep going when you're on the limit? Will power
• Career highlight? Gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics
• If you weren't a sailor, what would you be? Not sure, definitely working outdoors.
• Best advice? Tack when it flaps
• What other sports do you play now? Nothing competitively. Sometimes manage to go surfing or kite surfing
• Funniest team-mate? Joey Newton
For Australian Olympic gold and silver medallist, Iain Jensen (Goobs), the 36th America’s Cup in 2021 will be his third America’s Cup. Despite two previous campaigns, with Sweden’s Artemis Racing, his background is in dinghies, mainly 49ers and Olympic classes. He joined the British team this summer with a duel role, as mainsail trimmer and design team liaison and is currently part of the GC32 Race Squad, competing on the European GC32 Racing Tour. When he’s onshore he’s working closely with the design team, involved with the development of the mainsail.
Jensen grew up on Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney but didn’t come from a ‘sailing family’. His father was into water skiing and brought a wooden sabot when the family moved to the Lake. He started sailing aged five, because ‘his friends got into it’ and his first sailing club, Wangi Amateur Sailing Club had a real family feel, which made the sport fun, “I made some good friends and we had fun sailing together. I started competing when I was eight and loved the sport, so I just kept going. When I got a bit older I took part in club racing and club championships and then started doing state titles and national titles.”
“There wasn’t one thing that got me hooked on the sport as such, when you’re a kid you try lots of different things but when I got to 12 I started going OK and won a national title.”
Aged 16, sailing in the youth 420 class he represented Australia for the first time, winning the 420 youth World Championships, “I just found it a lot of fun when I was young and then I started doing well in competitions and still enjoyed it so that turned into a career, although I still see sailing as a hobby so I’m lucky enough to be able to say I really enjoy my job.”
When it comes to the Cup, he first experienced the racing on a family holiday to Auckland back in 2003 when he was 15, when they were visiting his Mum who was working in the city, “The racing was on and Dad hired a boat and we went out and watched some of the Challenger series, that was the first time I really knew anything about the America’s Cup. It was really cool to watch, it’s up there - the America’s Cup has always been the pinnacle of our sport.”
Six years later in 2009 Jensen teamed up with Nathan Outteridge in the 49er and the pair immediately stamped their mark, becoming double World Champions first in Lake Garda (2009) followed by their second title two years later in Perth. Then came the pinnacle, in 2012 they won gold at the London Olympic Games.
Jensen’s first experience of a Cup team came just six months later when he followed Outteridge to Artemis Racing. “They needed someone to help look after the AC45 – which at the time was non foiling - and to also be a spare sailor and so I joined the team in January 2013. Everything went well and I ended doing some sailing on the big boat [the AC72] and managed to get selected to race on-board and competed as wing trimmer in the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.”
He stayed with Artemis for their next campaign, the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda but ran a duel Cup and Olympic programme, “although we won a silver medal at Rio , it felt like I didn’t really have enough time to do either campaign properly, so for my only focus now is on this campaign and winning the 36th America’s Cup”
His role with INEOS TEAM UK will see him work closely with the engineers and designers, inputting into the design of the systems and development of the soft sails. “I will be involved in some of the design progresses along the way, essentially giving feedback on what the output of the control systems need to be plus being involved with the aero modelling the designers are looking at and the trims they are targeting. It’s essentially one big loop – the designers will come up with the concept, the sailors test it onboard, we then give feed-back which allows them to further develop.” Jensen’s role onboard will be one of the ‘least’ physical onboard the AC75, the 11 crew are not allowed to exceed a maximum weight of 990Kg, with the grinders needing to be heavy and strong whereas his main focus will be on being light and injury prevention.
Outside of work hobbies include surfing, he recently returned from a surf trip in Indonesia, kite surfing and he enjoys the speed factor of the race boats, “Foiling is addictive, when you’re not quite in control and going really fast it gives you a big adrenalin rush and once you’ve had that you look for it again. It’s good we are in a development class that just keeps going faster and faster because if you love that feeling you get a lot of it doing this sort of stuff!”
“This class of boat is going to be interesting and there’s going to be lessons learnt along the way, it’s a huge challenge but it’s achievable and I think the AC75 concept is really good and T5 is already proving the concept works well. Three years down the track and the boats are out there racing in Auckland – it’s going to be awesome spectacle and special thing to be involved.
“Winning the America’s Cup would mean everything to me, it’s a huge commitment and big sacrifice for everyone involved – to relocate your family, the long hours - you have got to be serious about winning to take it on, which I am.”
Iain will be competing with the team in the forthcoming GC32 Racing Tour Villasimius Cup ITA (12th – 16th September)