Sailing La Vagabonde

Rescuing Greta Thunberg Is All In A Day’s Work For Sailing La Vagabonde

“That Feeling” is a sense of freedom and human connection. It comes when you’re out at sea and you become so close with the people you are with that you start to be able to read their thoughts. Getting to know people while out on the ocean is an amazing experience. We’ve had some incredible people crewing for us. We love the feeling of intimacy that you experience out there.

Crossing the Atlantic in November is a daunting prospect for the most experienced of sailors.

But Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu put their fears aside for the sake of one very important passenger.

In November 2019 they responded to a social media appeal from teenage climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

She had found herself suddenly on the wrong continent when climate change conference COP25 was moved from Chile to Spain at the last minute.

With air travel not an option Greta turned to Twitter for help - and Riley and Elayna came to her rescue.

Overnight they ditched their plans to spend a gentle winter sailing to Charleston, US - opting to face the fearsome seas of the North Atlantic instead.

“That ranks among our proudest achievements”, Elayna says. “It was an incredible experience with Greta and her dad Svante along with our son Lenny who was just one years old at the time.”

It is sharing extraordinary adventures like this that has seen Elayna and Riley’s Sailing La Vagabonde channel become the most popular sailing channel on YouTube with over 1.82million subscribers.

Now the couple are revealing what ‘That Feeling’ means to them as part of our global influencer campaign.

It was sailing that first brought Elayna, 29, and 38-year-old Riley together in a chance encounter when the pair were both exploring the Greek islands.

Elayna explains: “At the time, Riley would spend three weeks working and three weeks sailing. We met and he asked if I wanted to head to the next island with him. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Alongside son Lenny who is now four years old, the couple also have another son - Darwin, who is one and a half.

While Elayna spent her high school years in Western Australia learning how to sail, country boy Riley is more self taught.

Elayna recalls: “Riley learned everything by himself when he and his friend Lucas took out his sailboat for the first time.

“They rolled out the headsail and didn’t know how to fill it back in. So for the first two years before he met me he was just learning the hard way, no inspiration, no role models.

“He was just this country kid who came into the sailing industry not knowing a thing and luckily, made it out alive.”

When the couple got together, they were immediately hooked on the sailing life. “It was freedom,” says Elayna. “The feeling like we could just go anywhere and do anything, like we were making our own rules.”

Initially documenting their sailing adventures just for fun, they soon found that they had built a devoted audience without realising it.

Elayna says: “In the beginning, it was just a hobby. But we started to get people writing in asking, ‘Hey guys how are you? Hope everything’s OK’ and it quickly became obvious that our followers had become family to us. We felt like that was a good reason to post more regularly.

“The emails and videos we get of people saying how our videos have changed their lives makes it all worth it.”

Elayna and Riley and their young family are currently based in Vietnam while they prepare for their next adventure - sailing around Asia on a trimaran they are building themselves.

“We plan to go from Vietnam to Indonesia, stopping at some bigger cities along the way like Singapore and Bangkok”, says Elayna. “Our new boat is so light that we’ll be able to sail with such light conditions, which is what Asia kind of gives you.

“So we’re not worried that we’ll be stuck with no wind because we can sail in minimal wind which is why we wanted such a light and fast boat.”

And through all the ups and downs of life at sea since 2014 the couple remain committed to sharing their knowledge with others, so they too can experience ‘That Feeling’ in their lives.

“If we can do it, so can anyone”, says Elayna. “We were just a couple of kids that had very little or no sailing experience who crossed an entire ocean within a year of getting started.

“It’s very possible - and we just want to encourage people to get out of their comfort zones.”

Find out more about Sailing La Vagabonde:

What does That Feeling mean to you?

Tag your content with our hashtags #AkzoNobel #ThatFeeling so that we can celebrate your passion with the sailing world.

Songs for sailing

Our influencers have come together to curate this playlist for you to enjoy when you are out on the water.