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Rooster Sailing win DAME award for the Exofleece - Interview with Steve Cockerill and Kate Sargent

by Mark Jardine 13 Nov 15:00 GMT 13 November 2018
Steve Cockerill and Kate Sargent celebrate Rooster Sailing's win at the DAME awards for the Rooster Exofleece © Mark Jardine

We talked to Steve Cockerill and Kate Sargent at the METS marine trade fair in Amsterdam, where Rooster Sailing have just won a DAME award in the clothing category for the Rooster Exofleece.

Mark Jardine: Steve, this is now 19 years of Rooster growth; how do you maintain such high enthusiasm for such a long period of time?

Steve Cockerill: Have a passion for the sport, I guess! And bring in people who are enthusiastic for the sport.

Mark: When you started off, you were a one-man band. You had your rusting van, and were bringing in single products where you saw they were needed. You had ideas, and thought, "I can make this. And I can make it better." Is that still the ethos behind Rooster?

Steve: It is. We tend to do things that make the rest of the industry think, "That's strange, why are they doing that?" When I started, it was because the rest of the industry didn't want to make a pair of hiking shorts, and I knew it was going to be something we had to bring to market, because it would improve people's enjoyment of sailing. We've always tried to do things to make people enjoy sailing more. Bringing in the Aquafleece helped people be warm and comfortable on the water, and put smiles on kids' faces when it was cold. Now it is the same with Exofleece: we're being more inclusive, with a product you can wear even if you're allergic or irritated by neoprene. By being inclusive we hope more people can enjoy the sport.

Mark: One of the newer members of your team - someone who has completely hit the ground running - Kate Sargent, has been instrumental in many of the new designs recently. Kate, how does it feel to be part of the Rooster team, with all that boundless enthusiasm around you?

Kate Sargent: It was great to find someone who shared a similar passion: for designing things and wanting more people to get into the sport. Not just designing for sales necessarily, but designing things that people want and need, which will get them out on the water.

Mark: That is one of the key things all along with Rooster, it has been your push for participation, trying to make it so that people can enjoy the sport more. Lately, both of you have taken up sailing the RS Aero. Do you think that, with your kit improvements, and boat designers improving the ergonomics of designs (such as the Aero), this is all helping sailing participation?

Steve: I'm sure it is. There is so much excitement out there, for boats that foil, for boats that are light and fun to sail; there's so much choice. The difficulty is how to show people what they should be sailing, and how to sail it better. That is another aspect of what Rooster does. I'm almost more excited about the women's range that Kate has designed this year; I don't want to be sailing in a male environment all the time, so I'd like to be at a club where women are enjoying sailing too.

Mark: Kate, that is a very good point: equality in the sport is big news at the moment, with the push towards full equality in the Olympics at Paris 2024. How do we get more women into the sport, and how can the industry help with this aspect?

Kate: I think a lot of women are put off, because traditionally in sailing there has been a lot of male dominance, from leadership down to ground level. All we can do as a company is at least bring products that will allow people to feel good in what they are doing, and be comfortable, and hopefully that will follow in their performance. It's awful being in an uncomfortable wetsuit, or you don't feel good, wearing something you don't really like. There is a difference between women and men, in the mindset and everything, although nearly all of us want to look good. How you feel really affects your performance. That is why the women's range came along and developed the way it did.

Mark: Steve, the DAME award is without doubt the highest accolade for products in the sailing industry. What does it feel like to be a winner in the clothing category this year?

Steve: I'm absolutely flabbergasted. We've missed out the 'special mention' totally, and gone from one or two nominations in past years, straight to category winner. It's a great way of publicising what we are trying to do with the brand. I'm super excited.

Mark: Steve and Kate, huge congratulations to you on this award. It is highly deserved. It is just great to see Rooster continuing to innovate in this sport which we all love.

Kate: thank you!

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