From sailing cutters to super yachts - Outward Bound

From sailing cutters to super yachts

Inspirational, Life after OB

We caught up with Outward Bound Alumni Kris Ward who completed a Classic course in Feb 2015. He loved sailing around the Marlborough Sounds so much that he’s now logged over 30,000 nautical miles working as a deckhand on a privately owned super yacht!

When did you go to Outward Bound?

I did the 21 day Classic course in February 2015, I was in Batten Watch 602.

I was employed as an apprentice painter & decorator at the time and was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship from the Christchurch Rotary Club. My employer supported me to go, so off I went.


What were your highlights?

I had a great bunch of interesting people in my watch!  A real highlight for me was the sense of achievement in being part of a team and getting the whole watch through some pretty challenging times.

I loved the sailing in the Marlborough sounds, that experience was part of the reason I chose to work on a super yacht.


Lowlights or challenges?

I had a real challenge with preparing food for the group. I was quickly up skilled and told to get on with it. My team were hungry (hangry) and I learnt not to keep my watch mates waiting. 

I am now proficient in the galley and happily cook kiwi roast dinners for the rest of my yacht crew on special occasions.

Kris Ward2




What did you learn about yourself at OB?

Outward Bound gave me an opportunity to have a blank canvas for a couple of weeks, a fresh new slate where I learnt a lot about myself while on the course. I was 18 at the time and I think one of the youngest in my watch. I learnt more about who I was and honed my personable skills, dealing with different daily situations and helping others with their own challenges.

Everybody in my watch had strengths and weaknesses, we had to work together to get through the physical and mental challenges we faced every day and it really helped me develop my own mental toughness. I found out what my personal strengths were amongst our group.

I confronted and conquered fear, I became more courageous and tested my limits. This awareness has helped me with other challenges I have faced around the world since leaving OB. 


Did you develop any skills you have taken into your career?

You’re encouraged to find comfort in what is unfamiliar but safe amongst your watchmates. You develop the skill of being comfortable with yourself in an unfamiliar environment – ‘comfortable being uncomfortable’. You're away from your devices, outside contact, family, friends and everything which is defined as your ‘comfort zone’.  This taught me resilience and self-reliance, I’ve found that I’m now able to reach a new level of performance standard.


What are you doing now? 

Since leaving OB, I've really focused on my personal goals. I learnt to intensify my focus and have built more self-confidence. After setting some goals, I studied hard, topped my course and landed an entry level deckhand position cruising the world on a privately-owned carbon fibre sailing yacht. In the last two years we’ve cruised from Tahiti to the eastern edges of Greece and Turkey, and nearly everywhere in between. 

Many people ask me about my role on the boat and how to get into the super yacht field. People see what I do for work and leisure and think it’s pretty cool, but to me it’s just being aware of opportunities – I now see them and take them. 

I want to inspire younger people in NZ! You can and should do what you love. 


Aude aliquid dignum - dare something worthy.


Kris Ward - Batten 602