Invictus games medallist competes in round the island race aboard ‘invictus’

London, 5 July 2016 – Zoe Williams, a multiple medallist from the Invictus Games Orlando 2016, last weekend took part in Round the Island Race aboard ‘Invictus’. She joined a crew consisting of Prince Harry and Invictus Games Foundation Chairman Sir Keith Mills.

The Round the Island Race is an annual yacht race around the Isle of Wight which starts and finishes in Cowes. This year, more than 1,500 boats braved choppy waters and strong winds of up to 40 Knots to take part in the 93km long (50 nautical miles) race. ‘Invictus’ finished second, just six minutes behind the winning yacht, the TP52 Gladiator.

Zoe Williams explains: “The first part of the race was upwind and involved a lot of tactics and manoeuvring close to shore to gain as much of an advantage over the competition as possible. From The Needles, where the conditions got a bit rougher and the boat speed increased, the Invictus crew hoisted a larger sail. I was responsible for the gib sheet, which meant trimming it to try and get the best efficiency, and then reacting quickly when they were struggling to trim the kite so as to make it easier to get it flying again.

“Taking part in the Round the Island Race was an amazing opportunity. It was great to see how the race played out, and to get an understanding of the complexities of the tactics. It certainly gave me the opportunity to test myself and to push my body to do things that I was not used to or hadn’t done previously. It was an absolutely incredible day and I really enjoyed it.”

Zoe joined the Royal Navy in May 2011 as a Warfare Officer but suffered throughout initial training with shin splints and compartment syndrome. At the end of her training she joined HMS BANGOR and really began to struggle with more extensive back and leg problems.

This resulted in her being downgraded after she qualified as an Officer of the Watch, and from here she entered the rehabilitation cycle. Since 2013 she struggled for motivation to exercise and keep fit, but in early 2015 she decided that it was time to move on and stop feeling sorry for herself. She overhauled her diet and started exercising again which has had a huge impact on her mood, lifestyle, and outlook.

She decided to compete at the Invictus Games as she wanted to prove to herself that she can overcome the injury and get back to competing as an international athlete, having previously represented GB Juniors as a synchronised swimmer.

Zoe explains: “I’ve never seen a competition like the Invictus Games: everyone gets behind each other no matter where you’re from. The atmosphere is so overwhelming. We’ve all had life-changing injuries or illnesses, so there’s a mutual understanding of what it’s taken for people to get there. Participating in the Games gave me a new goal to aim towards and inspired me to be the best I could be. Holding those medals for the first time will stay with me forever – the whole experience will.”

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