IMOCA’S MIXED CREWS IN THE TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE

IMOCA’S MIXED CREWS IN THE TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE

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IMOCA’S MIXED CREWS IN THE TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE SHOW THE WAY TO GENDER EQUALITY IN ELITE SPORT

The IMOCA Class has always welcomed male and female competitors, whether it be in the single-handed classics like the Vendée Globe and the Route du Rhum or double-handed races like the upcoming Transat Jacques Vabre.

The tradition of mixed crews in the Transat Jacques Vabre goes all the way back to 1999 when Catherine Chabaud and Luc Bartissol took part, alongside Ellen MacArthur and Yves Parlier. In the years since, IMOCA has consistently demonstrated that men and women can compete at the very top in short-handed offshore racing on an equal footing.

In this race the mixed crews are led by podium contenders Simon Fisher and Justine Mettraux on 11th Hour Racing Alaka’i. Alongside them on the start line will be Sam Davies and Nicolas Lunven on Initiatives-CoeurIsabelle Joschke and Fabien Delahaye on MACSFManuel Cousin and Alexia Barrier on Groupe SÉTIN-4myplanet and Louis Duc and Marie Tabarly on Kostum-Lantana Paysage.

 

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The Class caught up with 41-year-old French sailor Barrier who is a fervent advocate of mixed crews at this level. The Vendée Globe veteran from Antibes, who is often to be seen on the dockside with her trusty labrador Nikka by her side (the dog has stayed in Antibes this time), says mixed crews are a “cool” option in ocean racing.

“That’s one reason why I like offshore racing because when you are a woman, you can compete with men and you can be equal with the men,” she said. “For me, it’s just normal to be around men in a racing environment and playing the same game as them and having the same chance to win.”

Barrier, who is hunting for a title sponsor to help her take part in the Vendée Globe in a foiling IMOCA in 2024, believes the Class is sending a powerful message. “I think it is normal to race together and it should be like that everywhere,” she explained. “In society today we have many challenges for women and I think this is a good example not only for sport and sailing, but for society globally as a way of promoting equality between the genders."

“So I am really proud to be maybe an example for some young girls or women who would like to achieve something,”she continued, “and maybe they think it is only for men, but when they see us – or sailors like Sam (Davies), Isa (Joschke) or Miranda (Merron) – they can see that it’s possible.”