The Volvo Ocean Race will feature an all-female team for the first time since 2001-02 after global hygiene and forest company SCA announced they would enter a women’s crew for the next edition in 2014-15.
The team are the first to announce an entry for what will be the 12th edition of the race, starting from Alicante in the second half of 2014.
The all-female challengers are the first team to confirm an order for the new 65-foot one-design boat, details of which were announced by the race in June. The new high-performance boat is being built by a consortium of boatyards in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and Italy and will make it significantly cheaper for teams to mount a competitive campaign. The Volvo Ocean Race will ensure a minimum of eight boats are built, with the goal of getting between eight and 10 teams on the start line for the 12th edition of the race. The first of the boats will be finished in mid-2013.
The new design puts less of a premium on physical strength, and means all-female teams should be competitive in the race, which is one of sailing’s Big Three events along with the America’s Cup and the Olympics.
“I’m very pleased to see a women’s team back in the race,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. “The lack of women in the last few editions of the race has meant we haven’t been representing half the population of the human race.
“I’m also delighted to welcome back Sweden, which has a rich history in the Volvo Ocean Race. This is extremely good news.”
Under race rules, all-female teams will be able to race with two extra crewmembers.
Richard Brisius, who competed in two editions of sailing’s toughest challenge, will manage the team for Atlant Ocean Racing, who have two previous Volvo Ocean Race victories behind them with EF Language in 1998 and Ericsson Racing Team in 2009.
“SCA’s investment in an all-female crew is unique,” said Brisius. “Competing for nine months in the world’s toughest offshore sailing race is a challenge that deserves respect. The new boat design enables an all-female crew, and our aim is to create a strong team that will have the best possible conditions to succeed.”
Details on the selection process for the new team will be released in the near future, Brisius added.
SCA is a global hygiene and forest company that develops and produces personal care products, tissue, publication papers and solid-wood products. Sales are conducted in some 100 countries. SCA global brands include TENA and Tork. The company has approximately 37,000 employees and sales in 2011 amounted to SEK 106 billion (EUR 11.7 billion). More information at www.sca.com.
“The Volvo Ocean Race will increase awareness of the SCA brand and create stronger links to product brands such as TENA, Tork, Lotus, Tempo, Saba and Libero,” said Kersti Strandqvist, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications at SCA. “We also want to highlight how our products improve our consumers’ quality of life.”
The last time an all-female team competed in the race was in 2001-02, when Lisa Charles (now Lisa McDonald) skippered Amer Sports Too. The first all-female team to compete were Maiden, skippered by Tracy Edwards, back in 1989-90. The full list is as follows:
1989-90 Maiden/Tracy Edwards
1993-94 US Women’s Challenge/Nance Franck, later Heineken/Dawn Riley
1997-98 EF Education/Christine Guilou
2001-02 Amer Sports Too Lisa Charles (now McDonald)
The last woman sailor in the race was Adrienne Cahalan, who was navigator on Brasil 1 for a single leg in 2005-06.
The most recent edition of the Volvo Ocean Race featured the closest battle in the 39-year history of the event. Groupama sailing team of France, skippered by Franck Cammas, emerged as the winners from a pack of four teams challenging for victory right up until the final few days of racing.
Richard Brisius, CEO Atlant Ocean Racing AB and Kersti Strandqvist, SVP Corporate Communications SCA and SVP Corporate Sustainability SCA
(c) Oskar Kihlborg 2012