Volvo Ocean racer Liz Wardley gives Sky Sports News an insight into her remarkable life story
By Dev Trehan
Last Updated: 27/11/17 1:40pm
One thing Volvo Ocean Racer Liz Wardley certainly is not short of is life experience.
Turn the Tide on Plastic boat captain Wardley is competing in her third Volvo Ocean Race and was part of the all-female Team SCA crew in the 2014/15 edition.
Wardley, currently with her team in Cape Town ahead of next month's start of the 6,500 nautical mile leg to Melbourne, grew up in a town called Kokopo on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea.
With more than 850 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea, the country is one of the most culturally diverse in the world. But 39-year-old Wardley was very conscious that she stood out as a youngster living in Kokopo.
"I was blonde and I had really blue eyes and the locals hadn't seen many people like that, so I was sort of classed as a witch," she told Sky Sports News.
"My parents couldn't really take me into public places otherwise people would want to touch my hair or they would run away from me, which was pretty cool."
Wardley spent a lot of time fishing while living in Kokopo and vividly recalls feeling powerless after returning from a few days on the water and seeing her hometown go up in flames.
"We went to deliver a fishing boat around the whole of Papua New Guinea," she said. "We hadn't been in radio contact for - I don't know - five or six days.
"And when we came around the peninsula to the town where I used to live the volcanoes were blowing up.
"I watched the whole eruption and the demolition of the town I grew up in. That was pretty sad, but pretty amazing at the same time."
The family decided to relocate to Port Moresby before eventually moving away from the Papua New Guinean capital and onto a boat.
"When the two volcanoes (Tavurvur and Vulcan) erupted at the same time and the town was demolished we moved to the capital city," she said.
"It was pretty unsafe - especially for a girl at that time.
"Two of my sisters were in boarding school in Australia at the time, and my closest sister and I were still in Papua New Guinea and we got held up in the house.
"So our parents moved us onto a boat, because we thought it was safer but we came at a stint when there was a bit of piracy going on in Papua New Guinea.
"Our boat was the last boat in the marina and the local pirates - or whatever they called themselves - would try to board the boat every now and then.
"We'd all have to threaten them with flare guns out of the port holes. At the time I was 13."