Aileen is 32 and from Clarina, Co. Limerick. As a child, Aileen had no interest in being inside. Spending much of her time outdoors she did not have an interest in taking part in the ‘normal’ sports. Her interest always lied in trying out extreme sports. She is no stranger to extreme sports and pushing herself both physically and mentally, she sailed solo around Ireland for charity in 2008, becoming the youngest Irish woman ever to do so.
Aileen who is now based in Ballinspittle, Co. Cork, first became interested in Thundercat Powerboat racing about two years ago when she saw a post on Facebook. She contacted her friend, Peter Sweeney, a keen Thundercat racer and professional photographer, who took her out on his boat and let her drive it around. Although Aileen takes part in many different sports such as horse riding, rock climbing and sailing, it is the speed at which she races long distances through the surf that attracted her to the sport. She also saw it as a place to meet new people. Aileen has an interest in progressing the sport in Ireland and has taken part in many races over the last two years.
Training can take place in all weathers and this is judged on individual piloting ability. Aileen aims to train twice a week during the summer. She practices strategies during these training sessions, practicing racing through swell over long distances and cornering the harbour. Ultimately the training pays off. Aileen came third overall in her first season of racing.
She acknowledges the risk of powerboating, there is the risk of crashing and of going overboard at top speed and you can feel sore, beaten, battered, but, it’s also this speed that gives you an adrenaline rush and leads to excitement when you win.
“It’s amazing. It’s just phenomenal being out there.
The adrenaline rush, the speed, the new manouver,
the next big wave that we’ve just jumped and survived.”