A powerboat racer and stunt woman who has nearly died three times refuses to give up her passion.
Sarah Donohue, who has featured in several films, including a boat chase in a James Bond movie, has been resuscitated three times, fractured her skull, had titanium plates in her face, dislocated her shoulder, broken her other shoulder and collarbone, broken ribs, and fractured her right wrist. She has also lost several teeth, but joked that she hasn’t broken a nail.
Despite all of this and the dangers of her job, she vows to keep doing the thing that she loves.
The 52-year-old from London featured in the 007 movie The World Is Not Enough when she did the opening boat chase down the Thames.
Sarah, who is a Health and Safety Executive qualified diver and one of the 3% of commercial divers who are women around the world, said that while she will often drive through explosions doubling up as actresses in movies, she is often involved in ensuring safety on TV programmes like the Jack Osbourne filmed ITV show ‘Adrenaline Junkie’ in Dubai.
Sarah started her career as a powerboat racer in 1993, before moving into testing extreme sports for TV shows and acting as stunt doubles in movies.
She said that everything she does on TV and movie sets is extremely safe. Sarah told NeedToKnow.co.uk: “Stunts are as safe as they can be because everyone is an expert at what they do and they are there to make sure they get the shot and that the stunt person is safe. Everything is calculated and nothing is left to chance.”
Though Sarah does have several injury stories. Back when she was powerboat racing, she had an accident at an event in Venice and ended up on life support.
“I did drown, my heart stopped and I was resuscitated three times and airlifted to Venice hospital. They called my parents to say that I may not make it through the night.” But despite the risks, Sarah has never let the danger stop her and as a result she has had an incredible career.
She said: “I started racing in 1993 and I can’t say it was easy because racing powerboats, especially small boats, in rough seas is about as painful as it gets. It’s like going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. But I loved it! I was so much smaller than the male racers, so my body really took a beating in rough water.”
Sarah is one of a small number of women in her field and she loves to be a role model for women, showing them that women can be successful in male dominated careers.
She said the men she had met over the years in powerboat racing and stunts had been the most amazing and supportive people she could have wished for.
“I haven’t in 30 years felt any animosity or sexism from anyone and in offshore powerboat racing, which is virtually 99.9% male, and it is certainly a testimony to the British Powerboat Racing Club and others around the world. For those women reading this, if you want to try a different career but you see it as male-dominated, my advice is to ‘go for it’. You will be amazed at the reaction and the reward of accomplishment and the new friends you make. I wouldn’t swap my world for anyone.”