TEAM SCA: closing ‘vast’ experience gap
LANZAROTE _ Five women _ 2 from Britain, 2 from Australia and 1 from the Netherlands _ are working their fingers to the bone to close a vast experience gap in blue water racing. They are the core of a crew of ultimately 11 women in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. From applications of “hundreds and hundreds of women,” Sweden’s Team SCA has selected 20. Now comes the hard part, says Richard Brisius (photo), the team’s managing director.
The VOR has not had an all-female crew in over a decade. The practical effect of that is an “enormous experience gap” in blue water racing between men and women, says Brisius. He participated twice in the Whitbread-Round-The World, the VOR predecessor, and ran 5 campaigns, including an all-women boat in 1997-98 race that finished 9th out of 10. “I was not disappointed in the outcome,” says Brisius. “I was disappointed that (that race) did not lead to a new generation of women sailors.”
At Lanzarote, the easternmost of Spain’s Canary Islands, Team SCA began training 5 women 21 months before the start of the next VOR. They include Carolijn Brouwer of the Netherlands (2nd from left), the 1998 ISAF World Sailor of the Year and a competitor in 3 Olympics (2000, 2004 and 2008). In the twilight of an illustrious sailing career _ Brouwer turns 40 in July _ she is taking on an exceptional challenge. Training at Puerto Calero, Team SCA’s training base, involves stringent fitness sessions and taking a Volvo-70 (the former Puma) out onto the Atlantic 6 days a week. Team SCA plans to take part in the 2013 Fastnet.
Zeilen Magazine caught up with Brouwer on Lanzarote. “For the VOR it is important we build up muscle mass and become heavier, stronger,” she told the Dutch sailing monthly. Usually, there is a Thursday-to-Friday overnighter “when we sail 24 to 28 hours at a stretch. That lets us make miles and gives us night training.” Team SCA has yet to select another 6 crew members. Two other Dutch women _ Annemiek Bes and Klaartje Zuiderbaan _ have been trying out for a spot on the all-women boat.
Brouwer told Zeilen: “ When I was asked to come and talk to Team SCA, I was not even thinking of the next VOR. I was in the US for the F18 world championships. I see myself as an adventurer, as someone looking for challenges. I was in 3 different disciplines at 3 different Olympics … Taking part in the VOR has not been all that easy or self-evident. But for the women’s team this is such an opportunity. We have in SCA a powerful sponsor. We have a very professional organization and approach. That’s a real big difference with the VOR 2001-2002 I sailed in with Amer Sports Two. I think we have the team and the possibilities to achieve a good result. In the final analysis, that’s the most important reason for me is to take part.”
The most challenging aspect of the race? Missing Kyle, says Brouwer. Now 2, her son is shuttled back and forth between Lanzarote and the United States where Brouwer’s partner Darren Bundock works for Team Oracle in the America’s Cup.
The women selected for TEAM SCA in addition to Brouwer so far are: Sophie Ciszek and Liz Wardley (both from Australia) and Britain’s Sam Davies and Annie Lush (GBR).