Carmen Hooper

What an honour to be nominated!

I grew up with keen interest for watersports and nature as I would spend most weekends sailing and waterskiing with my family around South Africa. Interest turned into a passion as I started sail racing and coaching.

I completed my day skippers at 15 and I knew in my heart I had to have a future working at sea. I began studying marine biology after high school but quickly discovered that I needed to find a career path that would allow me freedom on the water rather than in a lab.

I changed direction to do my Yachtmaster Offshore at 19. Having competed in coastal races and offshore cruising around the South African coast, my experience and passion allowed me to be at the top of my class.

My next step was to tackle my first ocean crossing to work towards my Yachtmaster Oceans, I departed from Cape Town in March 2020 on a 60f catamaran heading for Brazil, but COVID had other plans. Which led myself and a group of cruising sailors to be stranded on St Helena Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. We had no choice but to wait out the pandemic for several months to gain entry to other islands.

With no way to get home, no source of income and a small amount of savings I set out to keep myself afloat by offering my nautical knowledge and skills to the yachtsmen on the island. Literally servicing winches and repairing sails for a warm meal and a beer, and trimming trees in a banana plantation for fresh fruit.

I eventually set sail for Saint Lucia on a 43f Oyster where I spent the remaining two months of 2020 restoring a 100 year old 30f classic wooden sailing yacht.

I joined MY Katharine at the start of 2021 and I love working in the superyacht industry. Now that I am gaining my sea time I have already started to work towards my OOW ticket, having completed my EDH through Bluewater this year.

I learnt so much about myself in the past two years, I’m able to handle any challenge thrown at me. I take pride in leadership and teamwork. These qualities I discovered in myself have helped mould me into a strong, confident, independent and adaptable deckhand that is able to thrive in stressful situations.

I have now taken on a lead deckhand role onboard MY Katharine and am enjoying training new . I wish to break moulds, and forge new paths in terms of gender equality, mental health awareness and environmental awareness in the yachting industry. I want to become an officer that is not just a good influence on the yacht I work on but in the industry overall.