Warren Jones Alumni Spotlight: Graeme Spence

Alumni Hits the Big Time

By Graeme Spence

Originally published in the 2018 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta Event Program

In June of 2017 I raced for Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup held in Bermuda. To race these technologically advanced and physically demanding yachts, sailors had to push themselves to continually improve, whilst remaining committed to achieving team goals.

Graeme Spence (right), who was a part of Torvar Mirsky‘s 2007 Warren Jones Regatta winning team, onboard Oracle Team USA at the 35th America’s Cup. Photography credit to Sam Greenfield, sourced from facebook.com/SailGPUSA

Seeking out the highest level of competition available is the only way to improve. Shortly after losing the America’s Cup to Emirates Team New Zealand, Oracle Team USA Founder, Larry Ellison, assembled our whole team to share a few words with us. After reminiscing about the team’s past successes, Larry went on to say that when competing against the very best in the world, you will not always win. At the time these words did little to detract from the bitter disappointment felt at our loss, however, on reflection, I have gained a great deal from these words.

Graeme Spence (far right), who was a part of Torvar Mirsky‘s 2007 Warren Jones Regatta winning team, onboard Oracle Team USA at the 35th America’s Cup. Photography credit to Sam Greenfield, sourced from facebook.com/SailGPUSA

In my early twenties, I started my match racing career in Perth. At that time the highest level of competition available to me was the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta. This regatta is the only pathway available for young local sailors to race with six crew in an international competition.

The first Warren Jones Regatta that I sailed in we did not win. We had a team of accomplished sailors, but lacked experience working together. We often crossed into each other’s roles, all talking at the same time or nobody talking at all. This was a bunch of champion sailors that had not yet evolved into an effective team.

Torvar Mirsky and his winning team of Nick Davis, Kinley Fowler, Mark O’Toole, Luke Paterson and Graeme Spence at the 2007 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta.

Three years later I was part of a winning team. This team arguably had less sailing talent than the team of three years ago, but that year we were the bench mark for preparedness and teamwork. Combining our individual efforts transferred into efficient manoeuvres, boat speed and ultimately winning the regatta.

Graeme Spence & Kinley Fowler, who both sailed in Torvar Mirsky‘s 2007 Warren Jones Regatta winning team, and Kinley also in Torvar’s 2008 winning team, competing for Oracle Team USA at the 35th America’s Cup.

In the 35th America’s Cup I raced along-side Kinley Fowler, 10 years earlier we raced together in the afore mentioned Warren Jones Regatta winning team. Since racing Foundation 36 yachts around the Swan River we have gone on to race a multitude of boats with different professional teams. Despite how varied sailing has become, the importance of working well as part of a team has not changed. The Warren Jones International Youth Regatta challenges young sailors to apply their knowledge, develop skills and create their own high-performing team. For many participants, like myself, developing these skills at a young age has prepared us for future successes.

This article was originally published in the 2018 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta Event Program

Graeme Spence, who was a part of Torvar Mirsky‘s 2007 Warren Jones Regatta winning team, onboard Oracle Team USA at the 35th America’s Cup. Photography credit to Sam Greenfield, sourced from facebook.com/SailGPUSA

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