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Driving diversity at The Ocean Race

Published on May 23rd, 2023

During The Ocean Race 2023 stopover in Newport, RI, The Magenta Project and IMOCA teams helped prepare more women for careers in the sailing industry. Meg Reilly with The Magenta Project provides this report:

The Magenta Project, a worldwide charity supporting more diversity and inclusion in sailing, alongside IMOCA, local and international industry leaders, crafted a career development program that included hands-on workshops, networking, and skill-building during the week of The Ocean Race Newport stopover.

To kick off the stopover and Magenta x IMOCA program for the week, Sail Newport and 11th Hour Racing co-hosted a Magenta Mother’s Day Rally for local sailors and their moms. IMOCA sailor and The Magenta Project co-founder Abby Ehler joined the group on the breezy and sunny Sunday to honor sailor Moms with a sail around Newport Harbor.

“It was really cool sailing with Abby Ehler and my mom – who doesn’t really sail, but has always been super supportive of my sailing,” said Magenta Mentee Emma Janson.

On Monday, May 15, the ‘Magentees’ participating in the week-long IMOCA internship program reported to the IMOCA Biotherm for a technical tour of the boat. Lead Engineer Alizée Vauquelin and Team Manager Marine Legendre met the group at the docks, making the Magentees feel very welcome in this not only female-friendly, but female-led team.

Alizée gave an in-depth tour of the boat systems, from electronic systems to foils, stem to stern, which ended crawling inside the forepeak for a casual chat on career paths in the industry.

The Magentees then headed off to their respective team and job assignments for the week, before reconvening in the evening for the “On the Horizon” DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) panel and networking event hosted by GAC Pindar. The third edition in the series of events at The Ocean Race, this conversation focused on career paths alongside grassroots initiatives to help build a more equitable and inclusive sport.

Panelists included World Sailing race officials, a US Sailing meteorologist and Vice President, IMOCA representatives, and sailor Abby Ehler, who all answered hard-hitting questions about inclusion policies, programs, and safeguarding procedures to ensure inclusive spaces are also safe spaces. To watch the full panel discussion, click here.

The following day, IMOCA suppliers North Sails and Harken hosted career development workshops for local Magenta sailors to help them build on-demand skills. North Sails Portsmouth welcomed the Magentees to the loft for a tour and to learn sail repair skills from two inspiring young sailmakers Serena Vilage and Will Bromar. Workshop participants noted that learning from near-peers was extremely valuable in their experience building upon these skills and their confidence in using them.

Later in the afternoon, the group visited Harken’s East office, where they met with local and international leadership from the Harken network. Controls Engineer Christine Malcolm shared her personal journey and work/life balance, and also got technical by diving deep into hydraulic systems, as well as Harken’s testing and design labs. Then Harken representative Skip Mattos disassembled a Harken Air Winch, which is equipped on most IMOCAs, to show Magentees how to go about servicing these performance winches and other hardware.

“It was awesome hearing from a fellow female engineer like Christine who was so passionate about the work she does. I was happy to see some of the systems and things I learned in school being used in the design and testing process at Harken, which was really neat,” said Harken workshop participant and Magenta alumna Kate Shaner.

While Magentees Kate Shaner and Kit Mattikow worked onboard IMOCAs Biotherm and Malizia, respectively, Emma Janson was seeing The Ocean Race and the IMOCA class from a different perspective. Currently enrolled in a Masters in Marine Affairs, Emma’s Magenta x IMOCA internship program was crafted towards her career interests and goals to intersect her studies and sailing.

Emma was paired up with several sustainability team leads to learn more about their roles and work, including Amy Munro of 11th Hour Racing Team, Claire Vayer and Imogen Dinham-Price from IMOCA Sustainability team, and Meegan Jones the Senior Sustainability Programme Advisor for The Ocean Race.

“We are very happy to see our partnership with The Magenta Project growing,” said Claire Vayer, Co-Sustainability Manager at IMOCA. “What we intend to do as a class is not only to open new pathways to these young sailors, but also to give them the opportunity to feel more confident about their future projects in offshore sailing in offering them strong tools and knowledge to pursue their goals.

“We really want them to feel that they are in the right place and capable as anyone to reach their goals after being involved in the IMOCA x Magenta projects. Our goal is to systematize this kind of team collaboration and involvement so it becomes normal to be committed to inclusion.”

The week-long race prep internship experience is a continuation of The Magenta Project and IMOCA partnership, and is the second iteration of the career development program, following a successful run at the 2022 Route du Rhum with seven IMOCA team pairings.

The Magenta Project and IMOCA will continue to work together to produce more networking and skills-building opportunities for women in the class at select Globe Series events, and welcomes industry partners to join their mission in building a more equitable and inclusive sport across the board.

Together, these programs are working towards greater inclusion goals, such as The Ocean Race’s Horizon pledge to have 50:50 men:women across teams by 2030.

Race detailsRouteTrackerScoreboardContent from the boatsYouTube

IMOCA: Name, Design, Skipper, Launch date
• Guyot Environnement – Team Europe (VPLP Verdier); Benjamin Dutreux (FRA)/Robert Stanjek (GER); September 1, 2015
• 11th Hour Racing Team (Guillaume Verdier); Charlie Enright (USA); August 24, 2021
• Holcim-PRB (Guillaume Verdier); Kevin Escoffier (FRA); May 8, 2022
• Team Malizia (VPLP); Boris Herrmann (GER); July 19, 2022
• Biotherm (Guillaume Verdier); Paul Meilhat (FRA); August 31 2022

The Ocean Race 2022-23 Race Schedule:
Alicante, Spain – Leg 1 (1900 nm) start: January 15, 2023
Cabo Verde – ETA: January 22; Leg 2 (4600 nm) start: January 25
Cape Town, South Africa – ETA: February 9; Leg 3 (12750 nm) start: February 26
Itajaí, Brazil – ETA: April 1; Leg 4 (5500 nm) start: April 23
Newport, RI, USA – ETA: May 10; Leg 5 (3500 nm) start: May 21
Aarhus, Denmark – ETA: May 30; Leg 6 (800 nm) start: June 8
Kiel, Germany (Fly-By) – June 9
The Hague, The Netherlands – ETA: June 11; Leg 7 (2200 nm) start: June 15
Genova, Italy – The Grand Finale – ETA: June 25, 2023; Final In-Port Race: July 1, 2023

The Ocean Race (formerly Volvo Ocean Race and Whitbread Round the World Race) was initially to be raced in two classes of boats: the high-performance, foiling, IMOCA 60 class and the one-design VO65 class which has been used for the last two editions of the race.

However, only the IMOCAs will be racing round the world while the VO65s will race in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint which competes in Legs 1, 6, and 7 of The Ocean Race course.

Additionally, The Ocean Race also features the In-Port Series with races at seven of the course’s stopover cities around the world which allow local fans to get up close and personal to the teams as they battle it out around a short inshore course.

Although in-port races do not count towards a team’s overall points score, they do play an important part in the overall rankings as the In-Port Race Series standings are used to break any points ties that occur during the race around the world.

Held every three or four years since 1973, the 14th edition of The Ocean Race was originally planned for 2021-22 but was postponed one year due to the pandemic, with the first leg starting on January 15, 2023.

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