Annie Lush's run-up to the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race couldn't be more different than her debut with Team SCA in the previous edition.
Last time round the talented Brit was a newcomer to ocean racing having cut her teeth in Olympic dinghy classes, with only dockside stories of what the Volvo Ocean Race had in store as reference.
Team SCA – the races's first all-woman crew for more than a decade – had done a serious amount of training but half of the crew, Lush included, had never spent more than a few days at sea in any one go.
Unsurprisingly Team SCA rose to the challenge with aplomb while Lush shone in her new role, quickly becoming a mainstay of the crew.
Three years on she's back with a new crew, Team Brunel, armed with the kind of knowledge that only comes from having spent nine months at sea on a Volvo Ocean 65 racing against the best sailors on the planet.
She knows just how tough the Volvo Ocean Race is, how much mental and physical strain it demands, and what lies in store for the fleet in the Southern Ocean – and despite all that she can't wait for the race to get underway.
“In the last race, when we got off the boat in Brazil after Leg 5, I remember saying to one of our shore crew that if I ever talk about doing this race again the answer is no,” the 38-year-old said with a laugh, “but here I am, back again.
“The race is so epic, and if you like racing you get to do it practically every day for nine months. I came from Olympic sailing where you spend four years effectively preparing for one week.
“With the Volvo Ocean Race it's like being on an Olympic race course day and night for months on end. It's adrenaline-fuelled, highly competitive, action-packed and extreme.
She continues: “Sometimes you love it and sometimes you absolutely hate it, but there is no more extreme thing to do.”
With 12 years of Olympic sailing and a Volvo Ocean Race under her belt, Lush was an obvious choice for the 2017-18 race – and it wasn't long before Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking snapped her up.
“We select the best sailors, and Annie is one of these,” said Bekking, the Volvo Ocean Race's most experienced sailor. “She is a fantastic addition to our team.”
As Team Brunel prepares for Leg 3 – a 6,500-mile, Southern Ocean double points stage – Lush has found herself mentoring many of the crew's newcomers such as America's Cup stars Peter Burling, Kyle Langford and Carlo Huisman in all aspects of ocean racing, while continuing to impress the seasoned veterans onboard.
“We have a fantastic team that blends experience of the Volvo Ocean Race with talent from other areas of sailing like the America's Cup,” she said.
“It's the first Volvo Ocean Race for quite a few of our crew, but then we've got the likes of Bouwe at the helm to bring the experience. We all get on brilliantly, and it's going to be a really fun race.