VentureSail was born from a love of all things sailing and adventurous. Following a rather epic channel crossing on board Bessie Ellen, Jo Downie and Nikki Alford agreed that there was a gap in the market for an agency providing skippered sailing holidays on board traditional, interesting vessels. With a background in marketing and design, Jo took the helm and spent the following months working on an innovative website and dynamic marketing strategy whilst Nikki met with fellow skippers and owners, discussing their needs and growing the fleet.
What began as a spark of an idea over a well-earned whisky in Brittany has today grown to be the largest charter fleet in the UK offering adventure sailing holidays around the globe, The VentureSail website now provides over 400 sailing holidays across the world and none of this would be possible without our fantastic team, who have grown organically alongside the business. Find out more about our dynamic crew and meet the faces behind some of the names!
Jo – Owner and Managing Director
With extensive marketing and managerial experience, Jo has been the driving force behind VentureSail Holidays, from inception to where the business is today, none of this would have been possible without her considerable industry knowledge, vast capabilities and passion for travel. From replying to customer enquiries, manning the phones, processing bookings, producing marketing collateral and managing PR to liaising with skippers, recruiting and onboarding new vessels and running incredible photoshoots, Jo has spun every plate and is the beating heart of VentureSail. And with the business showing no signs of slowing, we are sure you’ll encounter Jo at some point during your VentureSail experience!
Nikki – Owner
Nikki is the skipper and owner of the historical tall ship Bessie Ellen, one of the last west country trading ketches remaining in the UK which Nikki has lovingly restored paying careful consideration to detail and craftsmanship. A passionate sailor, Nikki holds a love for the ocean and nature, frequently regaling guests with fabulous wildlife encounters and stories of the sea. Having been at the helm of Bessie Ellen for over 20 years, Nikki brings an unrivalled amount of industry knowledge and experience to VentureSail. With numerous years at the forefront of delivering chartered sailing holidays, Nikki is on-hand to advise our fleet on improving guest experience and customer service.
Naomi – Accounts and Operations
Named after Dame Naomi James, the first female to single-handedly sail around the world via Cape Horn, it was inevitable that Naomi would fall in love with the water. Following in the wake of a family of sea-going adventurers, working for a sailing holiday company was a natural fit for Naomi and her zeal helped VentureSail navigate the murky Covid waters alongside Jo.
Maintaining a firm handle on the accounts and operational side of the business, Naomi is familiar with the entire business, turning her hand from copywriting to processing payments as required. Her desire to travel has taken her around the world including to Canada, Australia, Europe and America. When not promoting all things adventure sailing, Naomi can be found building her own house and planning the restoration of her Dad’s beloved Cornish lugger.
Suzanne – Customer Services
Often found with her head in a new Lonely Planet guide book Suzanne is an avid traveller who joined the VentureSail team after returning to Cornwall from London where she worked with a well-known boat charter operator. She has spent many years on the slopes as well as backpacking in far-flung countries meeting like minded solo travellers. Suzanne studied photography at University and always carries her camera to document her travels. She is the first point of contact for our customers and her knowledge of travel and our boats is extensive and growing by the day!
Sophie – Digital Marketing
Nature lover Sophie is in charge of all our digital channels. She is the individual who keeps us social, ensuring we are regularly connecting with our guests, past and present, whilst keeping the VentureSail brand alive. She holds a love for travel Sophie has been fortunate enough to visit destinations across the globe. Her wealth of geographical knowledge, an exceptional eye for detail, and fabulous design skills has seen her breathe life into our digital marketing. You can thank her for our engaging online content and for bringing fresh creative ideas to our marketing table.
Laura – PR Manager
Laura has been with us since day one helping to shape our brand and stories to the press. Having lived and worked in South Africa, running her own travel business, she is well connected with the travel press and continues to seek out new opportunities for VentureSail in the media. Her love of the ocean and the outdoors is paramount in her everyday life as she spends her time paddle boarding and hiking with her dog in Cornwall. Laura has sailed on many of our vessels but is keen to tick off the Caribbean on her bucket list!