Harken Derm

New wave of inclusivity in yachting

Published on June 6th, 2018

Bianca Cook, the only Kiwi yachtswoman in the Volvo Ocean Race as crew on Turn the Tide on Plastic, spoke with Suzanne McFadden about what it’s meant to be part of a new wave of inclusivity in yachting.

How critical has it been to have women in every crew in this race?
It’s so important, not just for the race but for women in yachting in general. Before the race started, a couple of skippers didn’t know if it was such a good idea. But we’ve proven we can be just as strong as the guys and having those extra pairs of hands on board has been a great thing. It also means this will be the first time in the history of the event that a woman will win the race. It’s still a very much male-dominated sport, but I think we are starting to change minds.

What’s it like living and working in a mixed crew?
I think the mixed team has worked well. All of my sailing, other than a little women’s match-racing, has been with mixed crews. I don’t see myself ever sailing around the world with an all-female crew. I’d much rather sail in a mixed team – it’s easier. If you feel like you need to say something, it won’t be misinterpreted. We all chip in, there is no hierarchy. It would be nice further down the track if we don’t have to have the rule at all, and we’re just seen as sailors, not women sailors.

Do you feel you’re able to inspire other young women to take part in the round-the-world race?
It’s been incredible the number of young girls who come up to me when we’re in port, asking how they can get into it. All of us have serious sailing backgrounds – there are Olympians, America’s Cup and offshore sailors. My best piece of advice for young women is to get your qualifications and plenty of sea time. Throw yourself at it.


With just two legs remaining for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales to Gothenburg, Sweden begins June 10 with an In-Port Race held in Cardiff on June 8.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

Overall Results (after 9 of 11 legs)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 60 points
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 59
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 57
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 48
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 36
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 29
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 26

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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