Making a positive break from sport

Alice Masterman was a two-time Sailing World Championships bronze medallist in the 29er class. She competed in the Olympic-class 49er FX, and is the head coach of the junior 29er class. She is now a surveyor at Flude Property. You can find Alice on LinkedIn.

My sailing career was massively disrupted by Covid, which probably arrived with the worst timing possible! My helm, Bella Fellows, and I were sailing in the Olympic-class 49er FX. As a result of that disruption plus a few other things, I threw in the towel. But I never wanted to part with sailing on bad terms, so I made sure I was ready to move into a new career challenge when I left.

I was always very conscious that lots of sportspeople who either lose their place through not being selected or quit the programme are quite bitter about it. They have negative experiences. They stopped because of injury, or they lost out at trials, or they felt the squad dynamic didn’t work.

I NEVER wanted to have that negative vibe when I finished, because I feel like you never get over it. You chat to people and they said, ‘I could have made it, but…’ I never wanted to be that person. I wanted to say, I’m done. Maybe if I’d done this, things might have been different, but I’m done. I never wanted to be that person after a few drinks insisting, I could’ve done this or that. Some people almost can’t move on.

I just feel lucky to have done it for four years. I went travelling and met so many people. But it got to the point where I thought, I’m not doing enough to make it at the very top level, anymore. I am still enjoying this and I am still friends with everyone. I could have done another 6-12 months, and gone to the Europeans in September 2021 (I quit in June of that year), but I wouldn’t have been honest with my team-mate. I didn’t want to give them false hope or false impression. But now, I’m doing it for fun! I do still coach, the junior version of my boat class, I’m involved in that and I’m helping people get on the international pathway. I still have one foot in, but my career in the sport is over.

I sailed since I was a child but it’s an expensive sport. I would say it’s about 25% self-funded, 25% parents, 25% Lottery funding and 25% sponsors. Which adds to the day-to-day stress.

Why did I end up transitioning to a career in property, at my current workplace, Flude Property? It always interested me. I did economics at university, I like meeting people, talking, doing sales and negotiation, doing transactions, giving your opinion.

You get out of the office a lot, you’re not sitting in front of spreadsheets. I knew I wanted to go into the investment side of it. I did some work experience including at Flude. I always thought I’d do my Real Estate Masters after sailing, then I realised I could do it online, while still sailing. I got a student loan for it, and a sports scholarship. I used my student loan to buy a new set of sails – I’ve almost paid it off now!

Studying alongside training was a great decision, because it structured my days a bit more. You can’t sail every day, you can’t train all the time, you have breaks.

I did work experience at Flude and they told me to stay in touch, so once I formally retired I got in touch – but I gave myself enough of a break to sell all my sailing kit!

As a lot of athletes will attest, the first few months in a ‘proper’ job were so tiring. I did the same amount of hours in a day as I did sailing, but starting my first job it was almost unbelievable how tired I was! I couldn’t do anything after work or at weekends. Then you adapt and get into a routine.

Being a female who has sailed at a high level is good to get your name out there in the property world. It’s a male-dominated industry so the social events are very much based on golf, cycling or sailing, and luckily I do 2/3 so It’s a good way to build my network.