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Women and Endurance

Reading of Jeanne Socrates completing her solo non-stop round-the-world sail left me full of admiration.

Anyone sailing around the world gets my admiration, even if stopping and with crew! Actually the same goes for sailing the Atlantic and less! What doubly caught my eye was that Jeanne did it at the age of 77. I know 70+ year old people who get nervous at a long car trip. Jeanne’s story can be seen at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/09/british-woman-jeanne-socrates-oldest-person-sail-around-world-alone .

Another recent story was about Pip Hare. She is starting the Bermudes 1000 (actually 2,000 nautical miles around Fastnet and the Azores and back to Brest) in her first qualifier for the Vendee Globe round-the-world race, beginning November 2020.

They brought to mind an article I’d read about the high success of women in endurance activities – more on that later.

Yachting has thrown up many exceptional long distance women sailors. The first I recall was Claire Francis, the first woman to skipper a yacht in the Whitbread Round the World Race (1977-1978). Since then there has been a parade of them amongst the top ocean sailors, such as:

Dame Naomi James, the first woman to sail single-handed round the world via Cape Horn, in 1977-78.

Tracy Edwards, who among other things led the first all-female crew to the finish line of the Whitbread Round the World Race, in 89-90.

Dame Ellen MacArthur who (again among other things) broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation.

Dee Caffari, MBE, the first woman to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe against prevailing winds and currents, 2005-06.

The list goes on. See for example https://www.ybw.com/features/eight-top-female-sailors-1410

But Jeanne’s story also reminded me of an article I read about the success women are having at other endurance activities, against men.

The article had been triggered by the then recent victory of Jasmin Paris in the Montane Spine Race, a 268 mile winter run on the Pennine Way. It is longer than 10 marathons and involves a total ascent equivalent to one and a half Everests. She beat all the men. The race is non-stop – the clock is still running when one stops for changes and cat-naps. The article cited many endurance events where women complete equally with the men, with great success. The article https://www.ft.com/content/0ead55ca-1d85-11e9-a46f-08f9738d6b2b  explores why women may be better suited than men to endurance activities.

Yacht racing is one of the very few sports that does not have separate men’s and women’s events. At least in terms of who may enter an event, if not yet fully culturally, yachting has been ahead of the game for equality!

I remember RORC races with Spellbinder – one of our rivals was always Pyxis crewed by ladies, just two of them, and older than most of our crew. I remember one night reaching down to Cherbourg, and our almost parallel courses edged us abeam of each other in the middle of the Channel. In little light available we could see them on deck. To me Pyxis was one of our yardsticks for whether we’d had a good race!

Phoenix YC Planning 2020 Already!

There is still plenty of sailing to be done this year (nudge!). Already though planning is afoot for 2020.  

With the fruits de mer barely flushed out of the scuppers, we are already planning the next Summer Cruise. Judith Hankey is, again, leading the logistics of it all. The information members provided in the survey has been a great help.

More broadly, the sailing programme for next year is being worked up, including the training programme run by Laurent Morlet following good demand for this year’s programme.

Winter bosunry plans are well advanced, so even though the season is far from over, there are committee members already working on the long lead time issues to give us a great year to come. We are grateful to them all.

If you think you would like to help in any of the many and varied tasks in the Club, let someone know!

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