Word on Wellbeing

Professional Yachtsman Ray Davies shares his insights on Covid-19 and beyond......


In this interview series Wellbeing Workshop gets up close and personal with some of New Zealand's favourite Business Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Sportspeople and Celebrities.


Today we talk to Ray Davies - Coach, Sailor & part of the Design Team for Emirates Team New Zealand.


Ray has been professionally sailing for over 24 years, spending the last 17 with Team New Zealand. Ray is one of the world’s leading sailors with an impressive list of achievements including The Americas Cup, three Louis Vuitton Cup wins, two Fasten Race wins, three TP52 Series wins, the Admirals Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, as well as European and World Championships!



Name 3 things you’ve learnt as a professional sailor and coach for Emirates Team New Zealand from Covid-19.


1. As a team we are always working face to face in an office environment or on the water through communication systems etc.  It was quite amazing how much productivity we were still able to achieve working from home on a video conferencing platform.  The design team were able to continue at a satisfactory pace and work closely on boat performance. It really was amazing how much work we were still able to get through. 2. We work in a very fluid environment with things changing constantly, but have very tight deadlines mixed in, so it’s quite an interesting dynamic!  I found if I exercised every morning and had some family time before calls started that set me up for the day nicely.  The slower pace of my day wasn’t a bad thing but it’s amazing how quickly that changed when Level 3 hit and we went back to work. 3. In slight contrast to my first point, Covid-19 really highlighted the cohesive unit we are when we are all together, we are a very driven bunch of people with a big end goal. I missed that when we weren't together during lock-down.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face as a result of Covid-19 and how did you overcome it?


For me personally it was realising that slowing down life can be a positive thing. I am an active relaxer and tend to jam a lot into my days but being forced to slow down and surrendering to that was a really positive part of lock down for me.


What personal changes are you going to implement as a result of Covid-19? 


Family time is always a priority and with a busy work schedule this can sometimes be a challenge, but since lockdown finished, I have made sure we continue to prioritize this in the weekends etc when I have a day or two off!


As an accomplished athlete who wears many hats - helmsman, tactician and coach for Emirates Team New Zealand and a father, husband and son; what is your best advice to avoid burnout? 


I'm probably not the best person to ask as I do tend to go quite hard in life, but for me I think getting early nights and a good nights sleep when I can, is my best way to keep on top of the long hours I work. Combined with trying to be social and prioritising family time in the weekends.

Do you think businesses will develop new levels of empathy and a greater willingness to talk about mental healthcare as a result of the pandemic? 


I hope so, I think it would be great if employees can have a mix of working from home and in the office - that would make work life balance a more positive thing overall.  We don’t have that opportunity in our work environment as we kind of need to be face to face to make decisions! But talking to friends in other industries, it seems that people have valued working from home to a degree.


What tools (if any) do you have in place to encourage ‘positive wellbeing behaviours’ in your line of work?


Communication is key and we ensure we get together after work for a quick beer or catch up about two times a week - it’s very much for whoever wants to drop in to have some banter before heading home.  We have different groups within our organisation that you tend to work the most closely with and so keeping the communication up within those groups is key. As well as making sure you also check in with people from other departments along the way, especially if they are working on big deadlines.  Some areas become busier than others during the campaign, so staying connected and chatting to everyone is important.  We have approximately 140 in the team so that is easier said than done!


What are you currently curious about?


Eye on the prize - gotta keep the America’s Cup in NZ so the country can enjoy a win! If you were going to invest in your future best self, where would you put your time and energy?


Starting the process of work life balance between cup campaigns is probably what I will try and put my energy towards.  I’m quite the ‘yes’ guy so maybe trying not to fill my work calendar up too much is something I could look at doing.




Wellbeing Workshop is dedicated to creating mentally healthier and happier workplaces with face to face and online programs and workshops that enhance employee wellbeing and business performance. We also offer performance and team building workshops with a range of experts. Chat to us today about how we can help you and your people thrive.




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