I was born in Ukraine and grew up during the hardest cycle of its development – a painful transition from the Soviet Union Republic to a modern Eastern European country with a market economy and free trade relations with the EU. I never had the opportunity to sail as a child and never had any connection to sailing until I tried to sail an SB20, just as an experiment.
This modern, fast and fun sailboat quickly changed my life and made me literally addicted to sailing, so I started racing locally and internationally at the age of 32. During the first year of racing I made my way from a complete beginner to national champion – together with my #GameChanger family we won the Ukrainian Nationals, a couple of big events in Portugal and finished 12th (out of 80) at the Worlds in Cowes, UK.
Today, just two years after being introduced to sailing, it is hard to imagine my life without this amazing sport, which has become an integral part of who I am. Now, as a board member of the Ukrainian Sailing Federation, I try to contribute to the development of sailing in Ukraine, implementing various initiatives and opportunities for young sailors, Olympians and the Ukrainian SB20 fleet, as well as to connect people and yacht clubs worldwide.
No words would suffice to describe how thankful I am to Tony Castro for designing the SB20 – a boat which anyone can sail at any age. Although I raced quite successfully in several other sportboat classes, I keep saying that the SB20 is the best boat of all times. I hope that the consistent efforts of Tony and the new management team of SportsBoat World will lead to the growth of the local Ukrainian and global SB20 fleets and that we will soon be able to welcome more women in our worldwide community of SB20 sailors.
Name: Julia Freespirit
Achievements: SB20 Ukrainian national champion, Ukrainian yachtswoman of the year 2017
Team: #GameChanger Sailing Team