Former TSS student Xavier Doerr is one of the youngest sailors in the 2019 Sydney-to-Hobart. Picture: Supplied
Former TSS student Xavier Doerr is one of the youngest sailors in the 2019 Sydney-to-Hobart. Picture: Supplied

Headhunted teen's one of youngest in Sydney to Hobart

AT THIS time last year, Xavier Doerr was enjoying his first taste of freedom after graduating from The Southport School.

Twelve months later, the 18-year-old is one of the youngest sailors in the 2019 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The former TSS sailing captain was invited by skipper Stephanie Kerin to serve as a grinder on the 54-foot Active Again two months after graduation, sparking a mammoth year of training to prepare for the world's toughest yacht race.

"My primary role is to generate power to power the winches and trim the sails," Doerr said. "It's extremely physically demanding and in my role I'll have to consume 7000-to-8000 calories per day (during the race).

"I have a pedestal with two handles and essentially I'll be cycling with my arms, facilitating tacks and gybes.

"We work in three-hour shifts on and off across one of the most desolate and angry stretches of water in the world.

"Once we're on the open water you realise you're completely alone, you face the elements and really start the race."

Doerr's training has involved three 15km runs a week, six days a week in the gym and countless hours of  rock-climbing to build strength in his hands.

His transformation from gangly teen to a 190cm ball of muscle has been largely self-inspired.

"It's been a bit of a journey of self-discovery for me," said Doerr (pictured).

"It's not well documented what to do so I'm just trying to build my fitness and take inspiration from the best in the field."

Balancing his training with coaching the TSS sailing program and a fast-tracked Bachelor of Business degree from Griffith University has kept the teen busy, but the results of 12 months of labour will be realised today.

His next three days will be cut down to three-hour shifts of heart-pounding, soul-­sapping work.

"This year the race is shaping up to be the trickiest and most intense in the history of the sport," the teenager said.

"There are 165-plus boats on the start line which means I'll get less sleep and be put through more physically demanding situations.

"It's an achievement in itself to finish the race but that's where the greatest degree of achievement comes, in participating and finishing."