In Fastnet, Team SCA bests ‘Abu Dhabi boys’
PLYMOUTH, England _ Team SCA, an all-female entry for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, put in a spirit-lifting performance at the Rolex Fastnet Race beating rival VOR participant Abu Dhabi. Team SCA won despite an angst-ridden return leg from Fastnet Rock. Psychologically, a big win!
Team SCA’s 9-women crew included 3 Dutch sailors: Carolijn Brouwer, Klaartje Zuiderbaan and Annemieke Bes. Their VO70 placed 4th overall in the IRC Canting Keel category, just ahead of Abu Dhabi. In all, 336 yachts took part in the race from the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Rock off Ireland’s southern coast to the finish line at Plymouth on England’s southern coast.
“We started well behind so had to overtake many boats,” said Annemieke Bes. “We tacked out of the Solent, caught up with Abu Dhabi and got to the Fastnet Rock first.” The return to England was a tad problematic. “We ended up in an area of less wind. The battle with Abu Dhabi was tense to the end.” Australian crew member Sophie Ciszek said it was “really cool to race against the Abu Dhabi boys. We did pretty well.”
Their win is psychologically important. The VOR has not had an all-female crew in over a decade. Sailing insiders speak of an “experience gap” between men and women in blue water racing. Team SCA has been hard at work to narrow that gap, testing female crew members in Spain’s Canary Islands under the guidance of 3 male coaches.
Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi, was gracious ion defeat. “We’ve been sailing for 3 weeks,” he said on the VOR website. “I was telling people before the start of the Fastnet race there was a very good chance SCA would beat us. They are very good sailors and they’ve been training for quite a long time now. SCA sailed very well indeed.”
Abu Dhabi Racing was the first Arab entry in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Its VO70 ran in the last VOR as did Team SCA’s VO70, then known as Puma. As of 2014, the VOR switches to one-design VO65 for all entries to defuse safety and cost concerns. The VOR will field a minimum of 8 boats in a bid to limit participation cost to around €15 million per entry. The Farr Yacht Design boats are being built by 4 boat yards in Europe – Green Marine (UK), Decision (Switzerland), Persico (Italy) and Multiplast (France).
The next Fastnet race takes place Aug. 16, 2015 _ 2 months after the 2014-15 VOR has crossed the finish line in Gothenburg, Sweden.