Jack Trigger (pictured)
Ambassador, Diabetes UK
At the age of 21, British solo offshore sailor Jack Trigger was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He tells us how he manages his diabetes alongside pursuing his sailing career.
Q: Did you have any symptoms before you were diagnosed?
In hindsight, I had all the usual symptoms – excessive thirst and constant fatigue. At the time, I was racing in a physically demanding three-week race around the Arabian Gulf, but it wasn’t until I arrived home and noticed I had lost 20kg in just three weeks that I realised something serious was wrong.
Amazingly I was so dehydrated that I regained seven of those in just one night on a hospital drip, despite drinking litres and litres of water every day to quench the thirst.
Q: What lifestyle changes have you made since then?
As an athlete I already did a lot of the things that help with diabetes management, like eating well and regular exercise, although I have had to become more prepared for everyday life. You can’t leave the house without emergency supplies and sometimes diabetes can require attention at just the wrong time, so spontaneity has taken a little back seat.
Solo ocean racing is probably one of the more challenging things you could do with diabetes, it’s physically demanding and high stress.
Q: What advice would you give to someone else with type 1?
I think it’s important to take control of it, to work with your diabetes healthcare team to find what works for you. It’s important to keep the bad days and low moments in perspective. They happen to everyone.
Q: What challenges does someone living with diabetes face on a day racing?
Solo ocean racing is probably one of the more challenging things you could do with diabetes, it’s physically demanding and high stress, you sleep in just 20-minute bursts and establishing routine is often impossible. Not to mention you’re potentially thousands of miles from help should you need it!
But by being strict, having good systems in place and making the most of technology like the insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor that I use, I can look after myself and still compete against the best.
Q: Can you tell us about what makes taking part in the Route du Rhum unique?
It’s a unique challenge: 18 days alone pushing yourself and your boat to the limit, few people get to experience something like that and what you learn about yourself is invaluable and often unexpected. Then there’s the adventure, the chance to connect with nature and to do something you aren’t certain is possible until you’ve done it! It’s incredibly rewarding.