In an exclusive interview, Anna Kournikova reveals whether she'll be replacing her tennis racket with a tiller

While the 37 Transat skippers mingled among the crowds in the pouring rain at the Yacht Haven in Plymouth before boarding their yachts yesterday, Anna Kournikova, Omega ambassador and tennis star, was making her sailing debut with Ellen MacArthur. Kournikova, who was kitted out in more than a short skirt and skimpy top, seemed to enjoy the experience of sailing Offshore Challenges’ Open 50, despite the dismal conditions.

Commenting on her sail with Ellen, Kournikova said: “The sailing today was great. It was rainy and windy but I had a lot of fun with Ellen because she clearly explained how the boat works, and about sailing in general. I really enjoyed it.” When asked if she saw herself as the next Ellen MacArthur, Kournikova added: “Probably not professionally but maybe for leisure. My experience today has definitely given me inspiration and I can imagine how it’s easy to get really interested in the sport of sailing.”

The tactical aspects and the mental preparation for tennis player is fairly similar to that of a singlehanded yachtsman and, as Kournikova pointed out, like in any serious sport you have to be 100 per cent dedicated, professional and disciplined. Kournikova continued: “The difference between this and my sport, tennis, is that here in the singlehanded Transat race you can die. This race is physically demanding and you have to be brave and mentally strong.”

Just before she made a dash for it to board HMS Tyne to start the race, Kournikova concluded: “It’s a great honour and experience to be here. I really feel for the competitors who’ll be alone in the Atlantic for 10-14 days and I hope that they all arrive in Boston safe. Just get there!”