“As a passionate sailor, the first-hand experience of helming, grinding, packing sails and climbing up the mast on this impressive yacht was a great highlight for me. However, the leading factor that empowered us girls was the opportunity to learn from and with inspiring people at the top of sailing.” So says Annika Moeslein, one of five female sailors who recently had the opportunity to be a crew member on a Volvo 65 on a 1300nm 5 day delivery trip from the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) in the Hague to Lisbon.
One of the core strands of our work here at the Magenta Project is to provide opportunities and pathways for female sailors to the top of sailing and to teams competing in the races that are at the pinnacle of our sport. Despite sailing being a sport in which men and women can compete together, and the number of women in sailing and racing growing, there are still significantly less women as skippers and crew at a professional level. Gaining sailing miles and experience on a variety of different boats, including the latest performance boats, and with a variety of different people and teams is critical to addressing that. But, as former Volvo Ocean racer and sailing coach Sarah Hastreiter says:
“We all know that navigating your dreams isn’t just a matter of learning new skill sets.. it’s about shaping yourself to be a better person, a better teammate and to best contribute to the situations around you. It can be a pretty complicated dynamic to find your way alone which is where projects like The Magenta Project step in”
We work with boat owners and event organisers to try and create opportunities whenever and wherever we can, whether through negotiating crew places at key regattas, encouraging rule changes, providing skills clinics in the run up to or during events or coaching sailors on delivery trips . When Team Sun-Hai Scallywag and the Volvo Ocean Race agreed to let us provide some of the 11 strong delivery trip crew we leapt at the chance.
Skippered by Volvo Ocean Race Team Scallywag crew member Antonio Fontes and with former Team SCA Member Sara Hastreiter providing onboard coaching and mentoring, five female sailors were selected by Magenta Project to do the trip. All five are at different stages in their sailing careers and are building their sailing experience and knowledge. All are potential candidates for future Volvo Ocean Races. After they completed the trip we spoke to some of the crew to find out what they learnt and their future plans:
Annika Moeslein: We made significant progress by trimming and performing manoeuvres together with VOR and America’s Cup sailors and acquired navigation skills from our skipper who navigated Scallywag during the race. With my engineering background, I was further enthusiastic to get insights into the various on-board systems from VOR boatyard engineers. My dream of reaching the top of this sport (and participating in the race) came closer through this opportunity, and now – again aspiring to learn more – I am looking forward to going offshore with as many deliveries and races as possible!“
Elizabeth Wallis: Aside from learning an incredible amount over the 5 days sailing (lasagne is the best freeze dried meal and baby powder is a God send), a real highlight of the trip was hearing such inspiring stories…all the women from Team SCA and the race this year are incredible role models and give girls like me the drive and confidence to push ourselves harder within the sport….Following this trip I plan to do as much sailing as possible and I really hope this experience will open doors for me. I’ve made plans to double hand a yacht to Norway and back, and I am joining an all girls team for the British Keelboat league qualifiers in August. I would also like to take part in the ARC this year…”
Charlotte-Sinclair Walker: ” I cannot start to describe how amazing last week was! It has only just sunk in. Amazing people and coaching throughout the whole week…thank you so much for the opportunity. It’s done loads for my confidence and drive, I ‘m now starting training and looking to get on a boat for the RORC Transatlantic this year!”
Our special thanks to the Volvo Ocean Race and everyone who provided such a fantastic learning platform.
The Magenta Project crew were:
- Elizabeth Walker (GBR)
- Charlotte Sinclair-Walker (GBR) – In depth interview here
- Emma May (AUS)
- Annika Moeslein (GER)
- Madelyn Ploch (USA)
- Sara Hastreiter – TMP Coach (USA)
CAN YOU HELP? If you are a boat owner or sailing event organiser (or can influence someone who is!) and would like to work with us to provide more opportunities for female sailors to gain experience on performance boats and at significant regattas then get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a female sailor wanting to race at a top level and gain experience, particularly on foiling boats and in offshore sailing, then follow the Magenta Project social media pages and apply for opportunities when they are advertised. Whilst we try and make most opportunities open application, some happen at very short notice or have particular requirements and we will then shortlist from people who have already provided us with their details