He has been focused on a love of the sea from an early age and is never far from the water, whether it be sailing or surfing.

So former Olympian Chris Draper is thrilled to be bringing the European debut of an exciting new sport to the south coast.

Chris, who lives with his wife Helen and children Harry and Lily in Lytchett Matravers, will be part of the British team competing in the SailGP event at Cowes Week this month.

The hi-tech, competitive global sport sees teams race on identical, purpose-built, cutting-edge F50 catamarans which can reach speeds over 50 knots (60mph). Having already taken part in events in Sydney, San Francisco and New York, Chris and the team are now eagerly anticipating the UK race.

"You don't get this racing happening very often at all," he explains, " getting these boats very close together. But also to get it so close to shore, actually seeing it in real life.

"The boats are absolutely cutting edge. There's nothing as fast as them on the water right now, by a long, long way."

Speed demon Chris, who is both chief executive and wing trimmer for the GB team, is in his element.

He comes from a family of avid sailors, with his mother, father and sister all competing at high levels in the sport. Chris got involved in sailing at a young age, racing Optimist dinghies. Aged 12 he won the national title and began travelling around the globe representing Great Britain on the world stage, going on to win the silver medal at the Youth World Championships.

That was followed by Olympic success. Partnering with longtime teammate Simon Hiscocks, together they earned the world No. 1 ranking in the 49er class for five consecutive years, winning multiple world and European titles before the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Chris then moved on to faster boats, winning the Extreme Sailing Series in 2009, which raised his profile and saw him get signed by Team Korea, followed by Luna Rossa Challenge and most recently with SoftBank Team Japan for the 35th America’s Cup as wing trimmer.

Having spent the last six or so years out of the country, he felt it was time to return home. So when the call came to join SailGP, he jumped at the chance to return to Dorset with his family.

"We were living on a cruise boat, so we sold the boat and moved," he says.

"I'm sailing for my country, so that's a really, really nice opportunity. And to build a team from the ground up and give some different people and opportunity.

From my experience of sailing the boats and my time as a sail manager at SoftBank Team Japan and being British and having experience of these boats, there's not that many people around that have got the experience of having these boats.

"There are six teams at the moment. The goal is that there will be ten events with ten teams in the not too distant future."

In the meantime, the focus is on training – much of which is not actually spent on the water.

"Because the boats are very expensive to run, we only get to sail them when we are just in the build-up to a race, which is why we do all the simulated training," explains Chris, who is also passionate about surfing, kite surfing and snowboarding.

"Requirements for the team members are quite different across the board. Different parts on the boat require different skill. I spend a lot of time running or riding my bike. A lot of stretching and yoga.

"We also spend a lot of time analysing the data that comes off the boat and the races. It's like Formula 1, we can see what everyone else's boat is set up like."

Chris is clearly excited about the future for SailGP, and now can't wait to get the public on board with the sport too.

"At the Cowes event there is a ticketed area but it's a free village," he says. "You can just turn up on the ferry and get a front row spot to watch the racing.

"It should be a really fun weekend."

The world’s fastest sail racing boats are coming to Cowes with the SailGP global Championship on August 10-11. Expect high speed, high tech and high drama in a thrilling nation-versus-nation battle. Tickets now on sale.