Dr. Edith Olasz Harken, MD, PhD, is a practicing dermatologist with a research background and expertise in the field of skin cancer prevention. She talks to Jimmy Spithill after the America’s Cup in Auckland, about another difficult fight in his life…. against the deadly rays of the sun.
Q: As a redhead, growing up on the water in Australia in the days when the ozone layer was pretty thin above you, was it really like having to fight the sun with a knife while the other kids with darker skin had the guns?
JS: I noticed I had to protect myself when I would blister, and a lot of my mates hardly had to wear any protection at all. One of my best mates at school was of Tongan heritage, and he used to take delight in my wiping all this sun cream all over my red face any time I had to venture out during the summer!
Q: How did you protect yourself when going to school on a boat every day? Did you use sunscreen or just protective clothing? Did you have any idea what sunscreen to use?
Sun protection is crucial for sailors, especially those with fair skin. You could wear a full-face balaclava to avoid skin damage from UV rays… or simply slap on a barrier coat of Harken Derm. Unlike other sunscreens, this one is optimized for sailing
JS: Typically protective clothing and a hat. I remember we had a great rule at primary school that during lunch it was: “No hat, no play”, meaning you couldn’t go out into the schoolyard or field unless you brought a hat. A lot of the time we would use sun cream endorsed by the “Cancer Council” in Australia.