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OT many people become a champion without making sacrifices and putting in a lot of hard work. Especially whilst also running their own company. Shelley Jory though is one of a kind, as she successfully combines running a Southampton bridal wear shop with riding the waves on her Honda powerboat. This week I spoke to the inspiring Shelley in depth about winning the Honda series to the sexism she faced on her way to the top. Shelley’s route into powerboating was an unusual one. She only became involved when her then boyfriend wanted to start in the sport, so she agreed to become his team manager. However it wasn’t long before she too was behind the

TEAMWORK: Shelley, right, with co-driver Libby Keir, left, and trainer Neil Holmes. They won overall best in 2005 British Honda Championship.

lot more than anybody else’s because it was like ‘well if they’re girls and their winning they’ve got to be cheating’ kind of attitude, unfortunately. “But now I can honestly say after three years of being at the top with the guys consistently we’ve now managed to gain so much respect from them. “They really, really accept us and admire us and even talk to us about things and ask our advice. “After winning in 2005 and 2006 and still being at the top of the podium with them and surviving all the scrutiny and checks they’re like ‘they’re actually pretty good at this these girls”, she said with a slight chuckle. “It is amazing, we noticed it especially this year, that we’ve got loads of respect from them which is really nice.” Shelley’s achievements have certainly not gone unnoticed and she uses her status to help in the community. As well as working closely with her two chosen charities – Wessex Heartbeat and RNLI – doing talks, demonstrations and charity rides for them she does a lot of motivational speaking in schools and other institutions. “Basically I tell them to work hard and play hard. You can have a full time job but can also have a hobby and be serious with it. “I really enjoy it because I am so passionate about what I

‘It was just supposed to be a hobby. It wasn’t supposed to be anymore than that’

But now I can honestly say after three years of being at the top with the guys consistently we’ve now managed to gain so much respect from them.

wheel. “I started racing with him after his friend set his own team up and I raced with him for about three years. “It was just supposed to be a hobby. It wasn’t supposed to be anymore than that.” After tasting early success Shelley eventually made the decision to set up an all girl team called the Bad Girls and bought her own 1.3-litre boat, which she raced with her best friend Darrell Elmes. Despite the pair’s limited experience they finished a respectable third in the British nationals and from there Shelley just carried on progressing in the sport moving up and up. Following a bronze medal at the 2-litre World Championships in South Africa she bought a V24 and became the first woman to win the three-hour endurance race on Lake Windermere, setting three new records, before being asked to join the British Honda Powerboat Series in 2004. “I got asked by Honda to start an all girls team and I actually had to sell my V24 to buy my Honda boat,” she explained. “But since then I have never looked back.” And rightly so. After joining the Honda Series she has achieved the astonishing feat of finishing

do. “Just sharing it with people, the ups and downs, the tears and the laughter of life in racing.” By the end of this weekend Shelley will be hoping that she is on an ‘up’ as she is competing in the Cowes Grand Prix off the Isle of Wight in front of a crowd of more than 70,000. Racing with co-driver Libby for Team Raymarine she will be aiming for a place on the podium to put the pair in good form before the finals in Liverpool on the 29th September. Shelley’s boat this weekend, as always, will be carrying three words to honour her achievement of becoming an ambassador of the city last year – ‘Spirit of Southampton’. Those few words explicate exactly what Shelley shows in both the sporting arena and everyday life. With the dedication of sailor Ellen McArthur and the never-say-die attitude of athlete Kelly Holmes she has managed to overcome the sports gender barrier, work in the community as well as running both a successful business and championship winning team. These rare mix of attributes make Shelley Jory not only a champion but also a true sporting icon.

LIFE ON THE OCEAN WAVES: Shelley Jory is powering her way to success in sport and in business. on the podium on each of the past four years, including winning the 2005 championship with race partner Libby Keir. Shelley leads a busy life on and off the water – not only is she a championship winning powerboat racer but she also runs ‘Brides Southampton’ – a 31-year family bridal wear business. “Its very, very difficult because its like running two full-time businesses,” said Shelley who relies on the work of her nine female staff at ‘Brides’ and her race team formed of co-driver Libby

Keir and race engineer, Trevor Leigh to manage. “The teamwork between us is the only way I can actually cope with the two things running side by side.” Shelley works 9.30am till 6.30pm weekdays so finding time to prepare is hard but preparation is key in the sport. “The racing is done mornings, evenings and weekends. The race boat is done around work time and to be competitive you have to do a lot of preparation.” “If we’re not training then we’re testing the boat, mak-

ing sure it’s running to its absolute maximum performance all the time as it’s the only way to be competitive because Honda is a one design class.” When Shelley lines up at ‘If we’re not training then we’re testing the boat, making sure it’s running to its absolute maximum performance all the time’ the start of a race she is part of 20 boats that are identical in everyway from their

weight to the engine and the aesthetics. The only difference is the drivers. “Its all down to driver navigator skill and the absolute preparation in your particular boat to win. That’s all you can do.” Not only does Shelley have to prepare the boat but she also has to prepare herself physically. Shelley is sponsored by personal fitness trainer James Seilo and goes to the gym with him three times a week before work where they focus on her core stability – a key attribute to a powerboat

racer. Speaking to Shelley showed me what a dedicated and impressive individual she is as not only does she run both a race team and business but she also had to fight for acceptance in what is still a male dominated sport. “It’s extremely hard. At first the guys think ‘that’s cool we’ve got an all girls team’ but when you start winning they are not very happy,” a frustrated Shelley explained. “You get scrutinised a lot and when we started winning our boat was checked over a

Shelley Jory feature (The Pink, 25/08/07)  

Feature with Powerboat champion Shelley Jory (The Pink, 25/08/07)

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