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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonOur alumni

Will Harris BSc Oceanography with Physical Geography, 2015

Professional Offshore Sailor for the Artemis Offshore Academy

Will Harris's Photo

Given that sailing is my sport, I have always had an interest in the ocean and there are so many aspects of it to study. I am now a full time professional offshore sailor for the Artemis Offshore Academy. I train mostly in Lorient, France. I race and train in a 33ft racing yacht. A season is generally made up of 5 months of sponsorship work; searching for companies to create a partnership with and organising corporate events for them. We undertake 4 months of winter training between November and February, followed by 3 months of races around Western Europe.

Much of what I learned while studying at Southampton applies to my sailing. Weather patterns, ocean currents and seabed topography were just a few of the subjects covered in depth during my time there.

The facilities at the NOCS are excellent and I had several working environments available to complete my work in. The computer labs were setup with all the programmes that we used during our lectures. Not only that, but lecturers were usually available to answer any questions we had on their course; often they are actually involved the research behind the course. There is also a great range of equipment available to use at NOCS. For practical sessions and the 2nd year field trip, we had a number of boats available to carry out research on. I don’t think I would have had such a practical and hands-on experience had I studied elsewhere. 

My favourite part of my degree was my dissertation. Although it was a lot of work, it was the most personal piece of work I have done in my education. The freedom to research whatever I wanted gave me a great deal of motivation and I found it very interesting. Having learnt to use computer software on one of my courses, I could apply this to my dissertation and put theory into practice. There was also a great sense of achievement once I completed it.

The experience of moving away from home is what has shaped my future the most. When I moved to Southampton it was incredibly easy to settle in. Everything you need is right on your doorstep, meaning you can focus your time on things that are important to you. This was very helpful as I learnt how to organise myself to become a more productive person.

My advice to students starting their degree at Ocean and Earth Science is always be on the lookout for work experience and summer internships and apply early. They are a great way to build relationships with companies and you can add them to your CV. You might meet your future employer.


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