Hannah White, 31, is bidding to break the women’s world record for sailing the fastest nautical mile…

Extreme adventurer Hannah White has sailed the Atlantic solo three times, cycled the seven-day Haute Route through the Alps, and kayaked across England. She is a presenter on BBC’s Countryfile and commentates on the Extreme Sailing Series. With Project Speedbird, Hannah aims to sail a nautical mile at a speed faster than 40 knots (46mph) early next year. The state of the art carbon and titanium boat has been developed with the help of Land Rover’s engineering expertise, and requires phenomenal strength to sail – Hannah is currently building muscle while losing 4-6kg.

1. I really wanted to do something in sailing that was exciting and engaging and that the public could get behind. Equally, I wanted something that could challenge me and stimulate me physically and mentally – the amount I have learnt about physics is amazing!

2. Sailing Speedbird demands very different fitness and a physique to what I am used to. I’m very keen on cycling, and now I’m working hard to build my back, glutes and smaller upper-body muscles. I need strength but mobility and flexibility too.

3. People do not necessarily associate athleticism with sailing compared, say, to heptathlon, but Anna Tunnicliffe (Olympic gold medal winning sailor) came ninth in the World Crossfit Games and Bryony Shaw (number one ranked windsurfer in the world) is one of my inspirations and she’s incredibly fit.

4. I’m using Crossfit to build my strength and mobility. Crossfit is a beautiful cult of like-minded people. Sailing can have a lot of solitude, but going to the gym with a bunch of my friends who are all fitter and stronger than me is one of the best things I do. I love the variety, from gymnastics to callisthenics to balance and strength work; it’s had such a profound impact on my posture.

5. We have to be realistic about my physical capabilities. There is no point building a boat that is so powerful that a 6’6” rugby player could not control. The beauty of this project is that the boat can sail twice as fast as the wind, so I only need a 20-knot breeze. There’s a foil, like an aeroplane wing that lifts the hull out of the water but stays under the water. I feel like I’m flying.

For more information: projectspeedbird.com

IMAGE: Anthony Cullen

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