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Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire): First all-female, doublehanded 'Round Ireland' record attempt

by Cat Hunt 7 Oct 10:27 BST
Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) © RL Sailing

This October, British skipper Cat Hunt and Pamela Lee, skipper of Irish RL Sailing Team will be sailing a Figaro Bénéteau III racing yacht around Ireland, in an attempt to set a first record for an all-female, doublehanded sailing circumnavigation. They are undertaking the challenge in partnership with The Magenta Project, a collective set up to support women at the highest level of sailing.

The offshore circumnavigation of Ireland is approximately 700 nautical miles, which will take about five days and nights. To undertake this voyage doublehanded (with only two sailors onboard) is a momentous challenge, as most offshore sailing of such a distance is undertaken with a fully-crewed boat, with at least eight sailors onboard.

Hunt and Lee wanted to set this record as an all-female crew, to demonstrate that women are not part of the shorthanded and fully crewed offshore sailing scene just because of a mixed crew requirement, with the likes of the Olympic and Ocean Race rules, but because they are strong, motivated sailors in their own right.

"Shorthanded racing is a great discipline because it demands that each skipper is skilled in all aspects of offshore sailing - from navigation to helming and sail trimming" "It is fantastic for females to be involved in particular, because it offers opportunities to learn and take the lead onboard that are often harder for women to fulfil on a fully crewed boat, where roles are more compartmentalised."

The two sailors are taking on this challenge with the hope of inspiring girls in Ireland and the UK to move into offshore sailing after graduating from dinghies, and to aspire to skippering large boats.

"There is talent, enthusiasm and potential among young, female sailors in Ireland and the UK, but often a lack of awareness about the avenues for participation for women," say the skippers. "We hope our record attempt will help to break down some of the stereotypes, related to accessibility and male dominance, and will generate excitement - encouraging other girls to get out and try to break the record we set!"

Sailing is one of the few sports where women and men can compete alongside and against each other, and this project aims to ensure that becomes a reality.

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