Female participation in The Ocean Race
Published on June 30th, 2023
The Ocean Race 2023 featured more female sailors than in any of the previous events in the Race’s 50 year history.
Overall, across the five IMOCAs taking part in the round-the-world Race and the six VO65s taking part in the The Ocean Race Sprint, there were 39 female sailors, making up 28% of the competitors overall and 98 male sailors, making up 72%.
This is a third more than the previous edition and continues the upward trend of more women sailing in the Race. In 2014-15, 18% of competitors were female, while in the last edition (2017-18) the figure rose to 21%.
While each IMOCA is required to have at least one female competitor onboard the four-strong sailing team, and three of the ten sailors onboard VO65s are required to be female, Biotherm exceeded the quota, with two men and two women sailing in three of the seven legs*. The French IMOCA team also had a female onboard reporter (OBR) for several legs, as did Team Holcim – PRB, while Viva México had a female onboard reporter on all their legs and Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team for leg 2. This marked another record for the Race, which had only one female OBR in the last edition and two in 2014-15.
The Ocean Race also made strides in the race for greater equality in sailing off the water, with other traditionally male-dominated roles seeing an increased number of women. Following a big push to bring gender balance to the race official roles, the current edition had an international jury of 11 members, composed of 6 women and 5 men. This figure is significantly higher than elsewhere in the industry, with certified international sailing judges only consisting of around 15% women.
“Making sailing more inclusive is one of the most important things we can do to secure the future of the sport,” said Richard Brisius, Race Chairman, The Ocean Race. “We’re delighted to have a record percentage of female competitors in the Race and more females taking on traditionally male-dominated roles.
“We are sailing in the right direction, but more needs to be done to break down barriers and create pathways into the sport for women. Just as we have set an industry benchmark in driving more female participants in the sport, we need to move the dial on diversity and leave a legacy in which the sport becomes much more accessible to all.
“Coming together as an industry and working collaboratively is the only way that this can be achieved. For the Race, we will continue to work with our host cities and local and national sailing federations to create pathways and opportunities. We also need greater commitments and action across the industry.”
Holcim – PRB Sailor and Co-Founder of The Magenta Project Abby Ehler added, I have participated in four editions of this Race and The Ocean Race 2023 has taken a step forward in terms of inclusivity.
“I have genuinely felt part of a team, and not a token gesture to a rule. This in my mind says a lot and shows that change is happening. Men and women competing side by side in a team is now being normalised – we are one of many, rather than the first, or the only.
“I do believe that the rules around crew diversity help to increase female participation and inclusion and I hope this continues with the pathways and opportunities ensuring that crew diversity occurs organically without the need for a rule.”
During this edition, The Ocean Race teamed up with logistics partner GAC Pindar, The Magenta Project, and World Sailing Trust to host a series of panel discussions and networking events aimed at driving greater diversity and equality in sailing. The four events, held in three continents, featured local and international voices from across the maritime industry, with the final “On the Horizon” session being held in Genova, Italy.
The Ocean Race was the first round the world crewed race with female sailors, with 13 women competing in the first edition in 1973. For the 2017-18 edition, the Race introduced a rule requiring all teams to include at least one woman.
*On legs 4 and 7, Biotherm crew included Marie Riou (FRA) and Mariana Lobato (POR) and on leg 5, Amélie Grassi (FRA) joined Mariana.
IMOCA Final Results
1. 11th Hour Racing Team — 37 points
2. Team Holcim-PRB — 34 points
3. Team Malizia — 32 points
4. Biotherm — 23points
5. GUYOT environnement – Team Europe — 2 points
VO65 Final Results
1. WindWhisper Racing Team — 18 points
2. Team JAJO — 14 points
3. Austrian Ocean Racing powered by Team Genova — 10 points
4. Viva México — 8 points
5. Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team — 7 points
6. Ambersail 2 — 3 points
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.